81 Senators Say: 'Deal'

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Senators approved a sweeping set of tax measures today that will keep taxes from going up on most American workers in January, delivering a huge political win for President Obama over staunch objection from members of his own party. The House is expected to vote on the measure on Thursday.

The Senate rejected several amendments and by a vote of 81-19 passed the tax deal reached by the White House and Senate Republicans, sending the measure to the House, where Democrats, despite angst, appear poised to quickly pass it.


But as the House vote approaches, some conservative groups have been pushing Republicans not to back the bill. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., a potential 2012 candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, today announced his opposition, saying it was a bad deal for taxpayers and would do little to create jobs. "I cannot support it," Pence said.

But Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, has sent out his own message, noting several conservatives and conservative groups that are supporting passage. A growing number House Democrats say they are now backing the bill as is, including 26 members of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition.

Under a procedural arrangement requiring that proposed changes to the bill receive motions to suspend Senate rules, the proposed amendments needed 67 votes, a bar that none of them could clear.

House Rules Committee spokesman Vincent Morris said the bill "could be ready for the floor and final passage late afternoon or early this evening."

The committee will meet to set a rule on the vote this afternoon, he said. Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., on Tuesday indicated that Democrats are unlikely to allow a straight vote on an amendment. She said the rule instead would be structured for the bill to allow for two and possibly three separate votes -- with at least one vote on revising the estate tax provision that some Democrats believe is too beneficial to the wealthy.

House leadership aides said one idea is to structure the rule to allow for a vote on the Senate bill as is, and a separate vote on a modified estate tax provision. Such a rule would allow members who want to modify that provision to voice that sentiment in a vote, without preventing final passage of the bill the Senate passed.

The bill, the product of an agreement reached by the White House and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would extend all Bush-era tax cuts for two years and give Republicans their preferred estate tax rate while extending unemployment benefits for 13 months and creating a temporary payroll tax holiday.

with Billy House contributing

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Dan Friedman is a staff writer (Senate leadership) for National Journal.

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