(CNSNews.com) - The House late Thursday afternoon passed the Republican-sponsored Marriage Tax Penalty Relief Act after defeating a Democratic alternativel. The bill now goes on to the Senate.
Representative Gerald Weller (R-IL), the bill's sponsor, said the 10-year, $182 billion bill would provide an average $1,400 in relief to 25 million American couples while the Democrats' measure would help only 9 million. Many House Democrats contended that the Republican bill was too large, irresponsible and did not provide relief to those who need it.
Weller also said, "Wiping out the marriage tax is an issue of fairness. Congress must eliminate the marriage tax on all couples no matter whether they own a house, deduct student loan interest, give to charity or take the standard deduction."
House Republican Conference Chairman JC Watts (OK) congratulated the Democrats who bucked their party to vote to eliminate the marriage tax penalty and called on the president and Democrats in the Senate to support the House-passed bill.
"It is wrong that our tax code penalizes marriage. We have a moral obligation to correct an indefensible tax policy," Watts said. "By passing marriage tax relief, the House has spoken the will of the people. It is now up to the Democrats in the Senate and the president to finish the job. Marriage is sacred - not taxable," Watts said.
Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means committee, said Republicans have moved forward on tax cuts too quickly. "Let's have a budget first. Let's see what we're going to do about Social Security. Let's see what we're going to do about Medicare."
Rangel's bill, providing $89 billion in relief over 10 years and increasing the standard deducation, was defeated by the House.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert called passage of the Republican bill a "Valentine's Day gift" to hard-working Americans.
"The Marriage Tax Penalty Relief Act is another piece of our common sense agenda that enjoys strong support with Americans around the country. This is because most Americans understand that it is ridiculous for our government to penalize married couples. This isn't about tax cuts. This is about tax fairness," Hastert said.
Janet Parshall of the Family Research Council greeted the House vote on the marriage tax penalty relief bill by calling it "historic." She said, "Reducing the marriage penalty is vital to America's well-being. By discriminating against marriage, the tax code discouraged it. This robs society of the benefits of strong families while creating more of the problems caused by family breakdown. By making marriage tax penalty relief their top tax priority, Congress has sent a huge Valentine to married couples in America."
The bill now goes to the Senate where Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) told a Capitol Hill news conference that Senate Republicans would move quickly to pass their own marriage penalty relief.
"We're very proud that the House has started the process. We will follow through in the Senate. The Senate will be there," Hutchinson said.
President Clinton is expected to veto the bill.