Congress sends tax legislation to White House

Acting with uncommon speed, Congress sent President Barack Obama sweeping, bipartisan legislation late Thursday to avoid a Jan. 1 spike in income taxes for millions and renew jobless benefits for victims of the worst recession in 80 years.

The measure also will cut Social Security taxes for nearly every wage-earner and pump billions of dollars into the still-sluggish economy.

The 277-148 vote came less than 24 hours after the Senate cleared the bill, 81-19.

The legislation was the result of a reach across party lines between Obama and top Republicans in Congress — stubborn adversaries during two years of political combat that ended when the GOP emerged the undisputed winner in midterm elections on Nov. 2.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., called it "a bipartisan moment of clarity" as the House moved toward a vote.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House of Representatives has given final approval to a bipartisan bill that will avoid a scheduled rise in income taxes for millions on Jan. 1.

The vote was 277-148 late Thursday on the legislation, which is the result of a compromise between President Barack Obama and top Republicans.

The bill also cuts federal Social Security pension taxes for nearly every wage earner in 2011, and renews a program of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday.