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Senate defeats Democratic payroll tax cut plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the Senate on Thursday blocked a one-year extension and expansion of the payroll tax cut that was coupled with a plan to impose a new tax on the wealthy.

By a mostly partisan vote of 51-49, the Senate defeated the Democratic legislation and was preparing to vote on a Republican alternative that also was expected to fail. At least 60 votes were needed in the 100-member Senate to pass either measure.

Under current law, the payroll tax cut for workers is scheduled to expire on December 31. Senate leaders are trying to find a compromise bill that would pass before the end of the year.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney)