The agreement was expected to reinstate temporarily some popular tax breaks, including a corporate research and development credit and a deduction for state and local sales taxes. Lawmakers also planned to use the bill to keep some of the president's temporary tax incentives for retirement savings, first passed in 2001.
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said negotiators were under pressure from GOP leaders to fold in a cut in estate taxes.
"I think it's a gamble to put it in," Grassley said.
A senior GOP leadership aide, speaking on condition of anonymity while negotiations continued, said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., wants an estate tax reduction exempting the first $5 million of an individual's estate and $10 million of a couple's.
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One unresolved issue was whether to give a special break for financially struggling airlines.
Congress has struggled to enact a pension bill for more than a year.
The House could possibly formally approve the legislations Friday, before it departs for its August recess.
The 279-131 vote came only hours before the House was expected to begin a five-week summer break.