Senate Democrats have decided to wait until after the mid-term election in November to hold a vote on legislation to extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which are due to expire at the end of this year.
We will come back in November and stay in session as long as it takes to get this done, said a statement by Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
President Obama has so far stood firm on extending the tax cuts only for those earning less than $250,000 a year, but Republicans and some Democrats say the tax cuts should be extended for those at the upper income levels as well. Republicans presented their Pledge to America plan on Thursday in which they reiterated their commitment to resist any tax hikes (see Republicans Unveil Tax Cuts Pledge). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., has introduced legislation to freeze tax rates at their current level.
House Democrats are leery of introducing legislation to extend the tax cuts for the middle class before the Senate passes a bill, fearing that they would not be able to overcome a filibuster in the Senate and only expose themselves to a politically risky vote before the election.
Senate Democratic leaders had initially planned to introduce legislation to extend the Bush tax cuts for couples making less than $250,000 a year and individuals making less than $200,000 a year before the elections as a way to force Republicans to take a vote on extending the tax cuts for the middle class. But other Democrats had argued in a closed door session last week of the Democratic caucus that the move could backfire and would be a political risk before the election.
Congress will now have to hold a vote on the tax cuts extension during a lame duck session, which may be the last opportunity before the tax cuts expire and Democrats lose the majority in one or both chambers.
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