Washington (CNN) -- The GOP-controlled House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $46 billion small business tax cut bill -- an election year measure that has virtually no chance of clearing the Democratic-controlled Senate or surviving a presidential veto.
House members passed the bill in a largely party-line 235-173 vote.
The plan, strongly pushed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, would provide deductions worth as much as 20% of income to companies employing less than 500 people. Republican leaders insist the measure would offer a critical boost to a sluggish national economic recovery.
"Tens of millions of Americans ... can't even find a full time job," said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas. "It's time to give our small businesses a break (and) to get this economy back on track."
Cantor declared that the legislation "puts more money into the hands of small business owners so they can reinvest those funds to retain and create more jobs and grow their businesses. Plain and simple."
House Democrats repeatedly blasted the measure prior to the vote, characterizing it as a deficit-busting giveaway to the wealthy.
"This is about the theater of the election year and everybody knows it," said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts. The Republicans "have run up the deficits in this country recklessly, and in the name of a political campaign they're prepared to do it again."
Noting that the plan doesn't include compensating tax hikes or spending cuts, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, declared that "it takes no courage to pay for this bill. It takes courage to pay for things."
Both parties have sought to use the focus on this year's April 17 tax filing deadline to gain a partisan advantage on what promises to be a critical issue in the fall campaign. Cantor's bill is widely seen as a Republican response to the so-called "Buffett Rule" backed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.
The proposed rule -- named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett -- would impose a minimum 30% effective federal tax rate on those with adjusted gross incomes above $1 million. While the measure failed to clear a key procedural hurdle in the Senate earlier this week, Obama has hailed it as an example of fairness currently lacking in the tax code.