Senate extends Bush-era tax cuts, unemployment benefits

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate has extended the Bush-era tax cuts in a vote Wednesday, 81-19. The bill now will go on to the House, where it will be taken up for a vote Thursday.

The bill would prevent tax increases for millions of Americans on Jan. 1. Democrats had indicated Tuesday they were displeased with a portion of the bill that lowers estate taxes, raising the tax exemption to $5 million for individuals and $10 million for couples.

President Barack Obama came under fire last week for his support of the bill, which also extends unemployment benefits for 13 months and cuts payroll taxes by two percent for the 2011 fiscal year.

Former president Bill Clinton said last week the compromise was necessary.

"I personally believe this is a good deal and the best he could have gotten under the circumstances," Clinton said.