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Senate Democratic Tax Plan Passes Senate Democratic Tax Plan Passes

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Senate Democratic Tax Plan Passes

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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. He is joined at left by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

Democrats scored an unexpected political victory Wednesday when the Senate passed, 51 to 48, a tax plan extending the Bush tax cuts for households earning less than $250,000 a year.

After Republicans agreed to allow a simple majority vote on the measure, Vice President Joe Biden made the trip down Pennsylvania Avenue to preside over the vote in case of a possible tie

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pushed for the Democratic plan, which would allow Bush era tax cuts to expire on the wealthiest Americans.

"People who are in this great country of ours who have done so well understand they're supposed to contribute more. They know that," Reid said from the Senate floor.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the Democratic plan for raising taxes on a million small business owners. He said the bill suggests that "these one million businesses didn't create success and we need to take this money [from them] because we can spend it better."

Earlier in the day, a Republican plan to extend Bush era tax cuts on nearly all income earners failed 45-54 in the Senate, with the vote falling largely along party lines.

McConnell said the Republican plan, introduced as an amendment, would protect small business owners from tax hikes.

Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch called the plan "a compromise," saying on the Senate floor that "our economy needs relief, our businesses, and all we are proposing is extending the current law for a year so that we can dedicate that year to do tax reform."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said Republican claims that the Democratic plan "will hurt small business owners is nothing but a smoke screen to protect the highest earners in America."

In a surprise move, Republicans allowed a simple majority vote on the Democratic plan so that they could vote on their alternative plan.

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