By Libby Casey
Senator Lisa Murkowski and a handful of other Republicans crossed party lines today to join with Democrats and pass a tax-extenders bill worth 140 Billion dollars.
The bill includes tax breaks that are typically extended by Congress most years. It would extend unemployment benefits, COBRA benefits for laid-off workers, and also includes $25-Billion to help states with the cost of Medicaid.
The Senate vote was 62 to 36, with the support of 6 Republicans. Only one Democrat, Nebraskan Ben Nelson, voted against it.
Senator Mark Begich’s office says he welcomes its extension of unemployment and COBRA benefits. He also supports provisions that prevent a 21-percent cut in Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors. And Begich favors energy-related tax incentives that include biodiesel, alternative fuels, and home energy efficiency.
Senator Murkowski’s office says she supports its fixes for pension plans that have taken hits due to the economic recession.
The bill also includes some Alaska-specific provisions that Murkowski favors. Her office says one would extend an expired tax break for the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation which was created to help them rebuild after a fire. It would also extend tax credits for boats that use fish oil.
Conservative Republicans complained that the bill isn’t paid for, and say it will add more than $100-billion to the deficit.
The legislation now heads to the House.
Both chambers have already passed another smaller job-creation bill, but its differences are still being worked out, so it hasn’t hit the President’s desk yet.