US Senate votes to advance bill for two-year tax breaks renewal

The Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

The Democratic-led U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to advance a bill to renew $85 billion of individual and business tax breaks for two years, setting up a confrontation with Republicans in the House of Representatives.

By a vote of 96-3, the measure passed its first procedural test, but still had a long way to go before the Senate votes on passage of the bill that contains a package of more than 50 temporary tax breaks known as "extenders,'' so named because they need to be renewed regularly.

The bill includes tax breaks for auto race tracks, wind energy, multinational corporations, Hollywood, school teachers, Puerto Rican rum producers, college tuition and more.

Most of the extenders technically expired at the end of 2013 and the bill would renew them retroactively through 2015.

Tax lobbyists said on Tuesday the bill has enough bipartisan support to win Senate approval, but that could take weeks as lawmakers try to amend it.

The bill faces resistance in the Republican-controlled House, which is taking a different approach to tax extenders by renewing provisions one by one.

The lobbyists said they expected the extenders to be renewed this year, but only after the November midterm elections when a lame-duck Congress has previously approved similar bills.

Last week, the House approved a bill to make permanent the research and development tax credit, one of the most widely used business extenders that has broad bipartisan support.

But the White House said President Barack Obama would veto the House R&D bill because it would add $156 billion to the federal deficit.