Senate extends Bush-era tax cuts pushed by Democrats

The US Congress building seen during a sunny November afternoon in Washington, DC, November 06, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Senators narrowly passed a Democrat-backed extension of the Bush-era tax cuts Wednesday in a partisan vote that won't likely stand in the GOP-controlled House.

The Senate held two high-profile votes on competing Democrat and Republican plans to extend the lower tax rates before they expire Jan. 1, CNN reported.

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The GOP version, which would keep the tax cuts in place for all income brackets, was defeated 54-45 as expected by the Democrat-controlled chamber. Several minutes later, the Democrats' plan passed on a 51-48 vote, The Associated Press reported.

Democrats are also in favor of extending the Bush-era tax cuts, but only for those making less than $250,000 a year.

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Party leaders have said omitting the rich from the cuts is an equitable way for the wealthy to contribute to deficit-reduction efforts. Republicans have argued the higher levies would hurt job creation because many of the wealthy own companies, according to the AP.

The Senate vote will carry little weight since tax bills have to originate in the House and House Republicans are unlikely to accept the Democrats’ bill, The Hill reported.