WASHINGTON – On a party-line vote, the House passed a Republican-drafted tax cut measure that costs considerably more than a companion Senate bill and reduces the chances low-income families will get a child tax credit (search) this summer.
The House voted 224-201 for the 10-year, $82 billion bill, which provides considerably more tax relief than the $3 billion measure passed by the Senate last week.
"This bill is real simple, Mr. Speaker. It extends the life of the child tax credit, it provides additional help for lower income families and it eliminates its marriage penalty. It includes, by the way, tax relief for military families, which you all have been calling for, and it revokes the tax-exempt status of terrorist organizations," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (search), R-Texas, who had been reluctant to support the child tax credit measure passed in the Senate.
The White House has said it supports both bills and urged House and Senate negotiators to "quickly resolve their differences" at a conference aimed to reconcile the disparities. But Senate Republicans have already said they will not vote for a bill that adds to the deficit, which the House bill does. The Senate bill was paid for by increased customs fees.
With the White House stepping back from the debate, Democrats have increased their efforts to push the argument that President Bush is insensitive to the needs of working poor Americans. They say his lack of compassion was evident when he agreed to changes to the $350 billion tax cut measure passed last month.
That tax cut left out low-income workers, who earn between $10,500 and $27,000, from a $400 per child increase in the $600 refundable tax credit. The child tax credit will be delivered to 25 million middle-income parents in July.
When the Senate readily agreed to Democratic demands to fix the oversight and hand over the $400 rebate checks to 6.5 million families, House Republicans balked, saying the minimum-wage workers were excluded because they pay little or no income tax, from which the tax credit is earned.
"We're turning our tax code into a welfare system," said Spencer Bachus, R-Ala.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (search), D-Calif., and many of her Democratic colleagues opposed the House bill because they say it has so many provisions in it that it's impossible that House and Senate negotiators could ever come to agreement on the many differences.
"I don't think it's ever going to happen," Pelosi said.
She again argued that Republicans are willing to help only wealthier families.
"The families that we are talking about here — working full-time — many of those families make less than members of Congress do in one month, and yet members of Congress, their children will receive the expansion of the tax credit this year," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
In the bill, the House also eliminated a measure to allow families of servicemen and servicewomen who served in the war in Iraq a child tax credit worth more than the $1,000 limit. The Senate had included that provision in its bill.
Fox News' Major Garrett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.