updated 9/23/2004 8:27:52 PM ET 2004-09-24T00:27:52

Congress on Thursday approved a $145.9 billion package of tax relief to extend three popular middle-class tax cuts, giving President Bush his fourth major tax victory since taking office.

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The Senate approved the measure 92-3 Thursday night less than an hour after it cleared the House by a similarly lopsided 339-65.

Democrats in both chambers joined in support of the politically popular measure even though they criticized the Republican-led Congress’ refusal to pay for the new tax relief at a time of soaring budget deficits.

The measure now goes to Bush for his signature. Republicans had been eager to get the measured passed to give the president a big legislative victory in the closing weeks of his campaign for re-election.

Without action, the three provisions affecting an estimated 94 million Americans would expire at the end of this year. The legislation keeps the per-child tax credit at $1,000, retains an expanded 10 percent income bracket that affects virtually all taxpayers and retains provisions to provide tax relief for married couples.

“This is about providing tax relief for the hardworking men and women of America,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said in closing Senate debate on the bill.

Debate in both chambers followed similar lines, with many Democrats saying they supported the popular tax cuts but were unhappy that Republicans had refused to consider offsets such as tax increases in other areas or spending cuts to pay for the package and keep it from making future deficits worse.

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