Democrats Signal Tax Deal Will Pass House

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Odds the House will pass a White House tax deal rose Sunday as top Democrats signaled they will allow a vote on the bill and a White House official predicted passage.

"We're not going to hold this up at the end of the day," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the incoming ranking member of the House Budget Committee and an ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said twice on "Fox News Sunday."

Van Hollen said Democrats plan to put "to the test" the question of whether Republicans will block tax cuts for all Americans to protect cuts for top income brackets. But he said Democrats would allow the tax deal to become law if the alternative was allowing income tax rates to rise for all Americans.

"There will be an opportunity for the House to work its will," Van Hollen said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., predicted on CNN's "State of the Union" that a bill containing the White House deal will pass, "but not with my vote."

The agreement, reached by the White House with 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.

The Senate is voting on the deal Monday afternoon and is expected to pass the bill with most Democratic and nearly all GOP votes.  Sen. Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., predicted Sunday on CNN that only "a handful" of Democrats will oppose the measure.

That makes the House, where most Democrats in a nonbinding vote Thursday said they opposed the deal, as the key test. But chances Democrats will block the measure are low.

Senior White House political advisor David Axelrod, speaking on CNN, said the package will pass.

"We believe that when it comes back to the House, we'll get a vote, and it will prevail there," Axelrod said on "State of the Union."

He stopped short of predicted a majority of Democrats will vote for the deal. But with near-complete GOP support, if Democrats are willing to allow the measure to move without a Demoratic majority in the House, it will pass.

Axelrod said the White House will fight for middle-class-only tax cuts in 2012, when the current deal would expire. He predicted an improved economy will create a better atmosphere for allowing cuts to expire for the top brackets.
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Dan Friedman is a staff writer (Senate leadership) for National Journal.

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