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GOP reports progress on $70-billion tax cut bill

Published May 6, 2006

WASHINGTON - Republican tax negotiators reported progress Friday in resolving differences that have blocked passage of a $70-billion package that would extend tax breaks for investors and protect 15-million middle-income families from a tax designed for the wealthy. One negotiator said the agreement could be wrapped up next week.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., and aides spent six hours behind closed doors trying to resolve disagreements between the two chambers that have stalled the bill for months.

Thomas said afterward that progress had been made. He indicated talks could be completed next week.

Republican negotiators tentatively agreed Tuesday on a $70-billion package that would provide President Bush with one of his top tax priorities, a two-year extension of the reduced 15 percent tax rate for capital gains and dividends.

The measure also would keep 15-million families from being hit this year with the alternative minimum tax, which was designed to target the wealthy but is ensnaring more middle income families because it is not indexed for inflation.

Administration moves to protect wind project

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration and two influential senators weighed in Friday against a provision that would block a 130-turbine wind farm off Cape Cod.

The wind farm, which would be in Nantucket Sound about 6 miles offshore, has been a focus of controversy for five years.

A provision tucked into a bill authorizing activities for the U.S. Coast Guard would give Massachusetts' governor a veto over the project, although the turbines would be in federal waters.

Energy Undersecretary David Garman on Friday called the provision "unwise" at a time when President Bush is trying to spur the development of wind turbines as an alternative for generating electricity.

The wind farm is opposed by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., whose family retreat is 8 miles from the site. Kennedy denied accusations that personal considerations are involved.

[Last modified May 6, 2006, 08:03:38]

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