Senate Passes Marriage Tax Relief Bill

By Justin Torres | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - By a vote of 60-39, the Senate passed a bill Tuesday to provide $248 billion in tax relief to couples hit by the marriage tax penalty.

The vote closes a loophole in the tax code that forces 25 million married couples to pay more in taxes than if they were single. The bill was adopted after a smaller Democratic alternative was defeated, and a House-Senate conference has been scheduled to hammer out differences between the chambers.

The House bill, which passed in February, provides an average $1,400 in relief to 25 million American couple.

President Clinton has threatened to veto the bill, saying it would eliminate funds for health and education spending, and has offered Republicans a deal which would include his signature on the bill in exchange for congressional approval of a Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Republicans have so far rejected the deal, and called on Clinton to sign the bill.

"The only thing that stands in the way of death tax relief (and) the only thing that stands in the way of marriage penalty relief is the president of the United States," said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS).

But Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) decried the bill as "election year politics" and said the country "had more important priorities."

More to follow.....