U.S. House Approves Tax Measure As Spending Bill Looms

December 17, 2015, 6:35 PM UTC
Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill
Photograph by Alex Wong — Getty Images

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a massive tax bill that makes permanent and enhances tax credits to aid business research and development, the working poor, children and other temporary tax breaks as lawmakers moved to avoid a government shutdown.

The measure, passed by a vote of 318-109 in the Republican-led House with some support from Democrats, is expected to increase U.S. deficits by $622 billion over 10 years.

Another $58 billion in tax breaks are part of a $1.1 trillion spending bill that funds federal government agencies through Sept. 30, 2016, and lifts a four-decade-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports.

The House is expected to vote separately on the spending bill on Friday.

Senior Senate aides have said the two measures, part of a bipartisan deal that would avert a shutdown, would likely be combined in that chamber and considered in a single vote on Friday.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she is not confident that enough Democrats will support the massive government funding bill to ensure its passage, although she plans to vote for the must-pass legislation. Democratic votes are likely needed given opposition from some conservative Republicans.

“We have serious unease in our caucus,” Pelosi told reporters at a news conference, adding that a provision to lift the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil is the top obstacle in gaining enough Democrats’ support.

The government last shut down in 2013 for more than two weeks due to a fight in Congress over Republican opposition to President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Alistair Bell; Editing by Susan Heavey and Will Dunham)

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