House Likely to Pass Reworked Tax Deal -Aide

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House ofRepresentatives will likely pass next week, providedRepublicans accept some changes, the framework of PresidentBarack Obama's plan to extend tax cuts, a senior Democraticaide said Friday.

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The aide said House Democrats, before permitting a vote,would demand a tightening of the estate tax provision.

"Many House Democrats may still oppose the final bill," theaide said, adding that it would need overwhelming Republicansupport to pass. Most, if not all, Republicans are expected toback the far-reaching package.

The House will likely approve the basic framework of thepresident's proposal, "but with some changes," beginning withthe estate tax, the Democratic aide said.

Democrats are fuming that Obama conceded to Republicandemands that the estate tax be lowered from 45 percent to 35percent. The president also agreed to boost the exemption toestates of $5 million or less from $3.5 million, meaning fewerestates will be affected.

Most Democrats have backed the 45 percent rate with a $3.5million exemption, calling the Obama-Republican plan a giveawayto the ultra-rich.

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The senior Democratic aide said it remained unclear whatchanges in the estate tax Democrats will propose in the overallpackage. "Hasn't been decided yet," the aide said.

House Democrats at a closed-door meeting on Thursdayangrily agreed not to bring the Obama-Republican proposal upfor a vote unless revisions, including the estate tax, weremade.

Obama agreed to extend tax cuts for virtually alltaxpayers, including the wealthiest Americans, set to expire atthe end of this month.

Democrats had long favored limiting the renewal only toannual income for families and individuals of up to $250,000and $200,000, respectively.

The president cut the deal with Republicans, saying he didnot want to risk taxes rising for most Americans in January,fearing it would hurt an already ailing U.S. economy.

The House could begin consideration of the measure withindays of anticipated Senate passage next week of a Senateversion of the plan.

The Senate opened debate late Thursday, after Senateleaders made changes of their own. A key procedural vote is setfor Monday.

The Senate version reflects the terms Obama reached withRepublicans. The bill adds a subsidy for ethanol but leaves outthe Build America bonds program popular with Democrats andlocal governments.

(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro and Richard Cowan; Editing byJackie Frank)

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