White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Thursday praised House Democrats for passing a permanent extension of Bush-era middle-class tax cuts but said negotiators still have a ways to go in reaching a bipartisan tax deal.
“The president continues to believe that extending middle-class tax cuts is the most important thing we can do for our economy right now and he applauds the House for passing a permanent extension,” Gibbs said in a statement.
The bill, which passed 234-188, picked up the backing of three Republicans and all but 20 Democrats. Despite GOP protests that the measure should also include tax cuts for the wealthy, House Democratic leaders decided to move forward with a symbolic vote on the bill. The Republicans who voted for the bill were Reps. Walter Jones Jr. (N.C.), Ron Paul (Texas) and John Duncan (Tenn.).
The vote comes as top administration officials entered the second day of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on a final tax deal that is expected to include a temporary extension of tax cuts for individuals who make more than $200,000 and couples who make more than $250,000.
Gibbs said those talks “are ongoing and productive” but added that any reports that negotiators are near a deal “are inaccurate and premature.”