Updated: February 23, 2012
As expected, both chambers of Congress approved the conference report to the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (H.R. 3630) before adjourning for the Presidents’ Day recess. The measure extends the 2% payroll tax cut and emergency unemployment insurance benefits through December 2012, and delays the planned cut of Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors, commonly known as the “doc fix” provision. The conference report reconciled the differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation. The House approved the changes made by the conference report in a 293-132 vote. The Senate approved the measure 60-36 shortly thereafter.
Generally, the bill extends through 2012 the reduction (to 4.2%) in the employee-paid portion of social security payroll taxes. The emergency unemployment insurance program is similarly extended through December 2012, although the number of weeks individuals would be entitled to collect benefits would be contingent on the rate of unemployment in their home state. Moreover, as explained in the Joint Statement of Managers (pdf) accompanying the conference report, the tiered unemployment benefits system would be restructured, resulting in fewer weeks of benefits.
The measure also delays the imposition of a 27% cut in reimbursements to doctors who provide services covered by Medicare.
The bill is funded, in part, by increased federal employee pension fund contributions. More information on this legislation can be found here.
President Obama has stated that he would sign this bill into law as soon as he receives it.
Update: On February 22, 2012, President Obama signed this measure into law.