GOP, Dems extend payroll tax cut, jobless benefits

Millions of Americans will keep more of their paychecks after Congress voted today to extend the payroll tax cut.

By a vote of 60-36, the Senate passed a bill that also extends jobless benefits, The New York Times reported.

“One hundred sixty million Americans, that’s the number of Americans who are helped by this bill,” said Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mon.), who led negotiations as chairman of the Finance Committee.

The bill earlier passed through the House by a 293-132 margin, and will be signed into law by President Obama upon his return from a California fundraising tour.

More from GlobalPost: Congress reaches deal extending payroll tax cut

An American worker earning $50,000 keeps about $80 per month thanks to the extension, the Associated Press said. It also continues jobless benefits until the end of 2012, although caps those benefits to 73 weeks in states hardest hit by unemployment.

In most states, the limit is 63 weeks for jobless benefits that amount to about $300 per week.

The vote became possible as Republicans realized they couldn’t fight the $150-million economic package during an election year; however, many on both sides opposed the bill because it’s expected to add almost $120 billion to the deficit during the next five years.

“I cannot and I will not support legislation that extends the payroll tax holiday without paying for it,” Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) said, the AP reported. “This will add $100 billion to the deficit and it will create an even greater shortfall within the Social Security trust fund that already has over $100 billion shortfall just in the last two years.”

Washington will fund the cuts by selling federal bandwidth and requiring new federal workers to contribute 2.3 percent of their income to their pensions.

A 27 percent reduction for doctors who see Medicare patients is also gone, an $18-billion move.

“Nobody is targeted in this bill other than federal employees,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said, the Washington Post reported.

More from GlobalPost: Obama signs payroll tax cut extension 

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