Updated 7:00 p.m.
By a vote of 83 to 15, the tax cut measure cleared the 60-vote threshold needed in the Senate to limit debate and set up a vote on final passage.
Updated 5:40 p.m.
President Obama gave a brief statement at the White House about the Senate vote, praising their decision to move forward.
“This proves that both parties can in fact work together to grow the economy and look out for the American people,” Mr. Obama said. “Taken as a whole the bill that the Senate will allow to proceed will do some very good things for the American economy and I urge the House of Representatives to act quickly on this important matter,” he added.
He pointed out that while everyone had complaints about his deal, the point of compromise is that everyone gives up something in order to move forward.
He did not take any questions.
Posted at 4:50 p.m.
At least 72 senators voted Monday to end debate and put President Obama’s tax cut deal with GOP leadership to a vote, clearing the way for passage in the Senate.
The bill’s fate in the House of Representatives is less certain, where liberal House Democrats have rallied against voting to extend lower tax rates for wealthy Americans as part of the package.
The vote in the Senate chamber will remain open so that senators whose travel plans were hampered by bad weather can travel to Washington and record their vote. As of 4:54 p.m., 72 senators had voted to end debate on the measure.
Under the bill, the current income tax rates would be extended for two years, and extensions would be granted for unemployment insurance. The bill also creates new tax breaks.
Read a summary here.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said during a speech Monday that the House is likely to pass a tax cut bill, as opposed to passing nothing. Many House Democrats expressed outrage that the compromise would extend tax cuts to wealthy Americans and create a lower estate tax rate than they preferred.
In the Senate, Vermont independent Bernie Sanders spoke uninterrupted on the floor Friday for eight hours to protest the deal as a giveaway to the wealthy with money borrowed from China.