UPDATE: Obama signs 2-month payroll tax cut extension - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Obama signs 2-month payroll tax cut extension

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama has signed legislation extending a payroll tax cut for two months. The action concludes an end-of-year drama that split Republicans and threatened a tax hike on 160 million Americans.

Obama acted Friday after the House and Senate approved the tax cut extension, which will maintain the Social Security tax at 4.2 percent. The legislation also extends unemployment insurance for jobless workers and forces Obama to make a decision within 60 days on whether to permit construction of an oil pipeline opposed by environmental groups.

By signing the bill, Obama capped nearly a week-long standoff with House Republicans who demanded a full-year extension. Under a deal reached Thursday, House and Senate leaders named negotiators to begin working on a longer-term bill.

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WASHINGTON DC (AP) - The House has passed a two-month renewal of payroll tax cuts for 160 million workers and unemployment benefits for millions of jobless, giving President Barack Obama a resounding victory over Republicans who control the House. The Senate approved the bill earlier Friday.

The measure was passed by voice vote in a virtually empty House chamber despite lingering grumbling from tea party Republicans. It buys time for negotiations early next year on how to cover the costs of a yearlong extension of the two percentage point payroll tax cut, the centerpiece of Obama's fall jobs agenda.

It would boost the paycheck of the average worker making a $50,000 salary by about $20 a week and would prevent almost 2 million unemployed people from losing jobless benefits averaging $300 a week.

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