Updated at 5:42 p.m. ET
President Obama is applauding two Republican senators who voted for a small business bill and says he'd welcome that kind of cooperation on the divisive issue of extending tax cuts for the middle class.
Mr. Obama thanked Republicans George Voinovich of Ohio and George LeMieux of Florida for voting to move the bill closer to final passage. Speaking in the Rose Garden after a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Mr. Obama urged lawmakers to approve an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for middle class families making less than $250,000 a year.
Mr. Obama says Republicans should stop holding those tax cuts "hostage."
"They want to hold these middle class tax cuts hostage until they get an additional tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans," Mr. Obama said. "We simply can't afford that."
Republicans are insisting that tax cuts be extended for higher-income wage earners, too. Taxes for everyone will rise next year unless Congress acts.
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