US House backs permanent tax breaks in massive bill

WASHINGTON: A massive bill that extends billions of dollars in tax assistance to businesses and expands the budget deficit won US House of Representatives approval on Thursday in the closest thing to a grand bipartisan tax bargain in years.

Lawmakers voted 318-109 for the $622 billion measure, which is a step toward avoiding a government shutdown. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it will likely be voted on together with a $1.1 trillion spending bill that must be approved to avert a repeat of a government shutdown in 2013 that damaged the US economy.

The tax package was a major victory for corporate lobbyists and Republicans. It makes permanent dozens of costly corporate tax breaks such as the research and development tax credit that had until now have been temporary.

Middle-class Americans also benefit under the legislation. The bill offers aid to students, low-income parents, teachers and others, attracting support from the White House and House Democrats.

Republicans said the bill largely continues existing tax policy, but ends uncertainty for businesses and families by making permanent many tax breaks that previously had to be continually reviewed and renewed, sometimes for decades.

“With this bill in place, Americans will no longer have to worry each December if Congress will take action to extend certain tax-relief measures,” said Kevin Brady, the Republican chairman of the House tax-writing committee.

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