(CNSNews.com) - The House Ways and Means Committee late on Wednesday approved the marriage tax penalty relief act of 2000. The bill passed committee on a 23-13 vote with Democrats unanimously casting the dissenting votes.
The vote comes eight days after President Clinton surprisingly called for marriage tax penalty relief in his annual State of the Union Address.
Should the legislation be approved by Congress and the President, it will mean federal tax relief for more than 25 million married couples filing joint federal returns each year.
The marriage penalty tax costs married couples filing a joint federal tax return approximately $1,400 each year.
The GOP plan to provide married couples with tax penalty relief would cost ten cents per dollar of non-Social Security surplus currently in the budget.
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said, "I am troubled that Dick Gephardt, the House Minority Leader, believes that fighting for tax fairness for married people is an 'extremist' position. The only thing extreme about the proposal passed...is the fact that it is extremely popular with the American people.
"Mr. Gephardt will be extremely surprised when many of the members of his own caucus vote for marriage penalty relief when it comes to the House floor next week. Most Americans believe that penalizing married people for being married is an extremely unfair concept and that getting rid of the marriage penalty is an extremely good idea," Hastert said.
House Republican Chairman JC Watts (R-OK) said, "When it came time to stand up for working American couples, the Democrats crumbled. They flip-flopped again. Every one of them voted to block the marriage penalty relief bill in committee...President Clinton, too, has flip-flopped. He's threatening to veto the bill because it's more tax relief than he had in mind.
"I'm not a believer in just a teeny bit of tax relief. In this era of revenue surpluses, we have enough revenues to protect Social Security, pay off the public debt and provide significant tax relief for working couples," Watts said.
Watts added: "We're going to pass a measure that makes a tangible difference to working couples. We want them to have enough relief to pay for a family computer, buy tires for the van or invest in a child's college education. We're going to do all that and still save Social Security and pay off the debt by 2013. I invite the Democrats to, once again, watch us do what they say can't be done."