Highlights of legislation renewing payroll tax cuts, jobless benefits approved by the House and Senate:
House bill, approved last Tuesday:
—Price tag over $180 billion.
—Keeps this year's 4.2 percent Social Security payroll tax rate paid by 160 million workers through the end of 2012, instead of rising to 6.2 percent on Jan. 1.
—Extends expiring benefits for the long-term jobless through 2012, but at a maximum of 79 weeks coverage, less in some cases, which is well below this year's 99-week limit. Revamps program to require beneficiaries without high school diplomas to seek an equivalent degree; lets states test applicants for illegal drug use.
—Prevents 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors for 2012.
—Blocks Obama administration rule curbing pollution from industrial boilers; extends tax break for businesses buying equipment for 2012.
—Requires President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline within 60 days unless he declares the project would not serve the national interest.
—Paid for by extending current pay freeze on civilian federal workers another year through 2013 and requires them to contribute more toward their pensions; raises fee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge for insuring mortgages; raises Medicare premiums paid by higher-income elderly; cuts some health care overhaul law programs; sells part of broadcast spectrum; prevents illegal immigrant parents from collecting child tax credit refund checks; bars food stamps, unemployment benefits for the wealthy.
Senate bill, approved Saturday:
—Price tag $33 billion.
—Extends 2-percentage-point cut in Social Security payroll tax through Feb. 29.
—Renews benefits for the long-term unemployed at current levels through Feb. 29, no other changes in program.
—Prevents 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors; extends other health care fees through Feb. 29.
—Same provision on Keystone as House.
—Paid for by increasing home loan guarantee fees charged to mortgage lenders by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration by one-tenth of 1 percentage point. The fee is passed on to home buyers and will apply to many new purchases and refinancings starting Jan. 1.