The U.S. Senate on Monday voted to move forward on the tax deal cut by President Obama and Republicans, 83-15. It will now move on to the House of Representatives.
While the outcome of today’s vote was never in doubt, the overwhelming margin makes it a lot harder for House Democrats to seriously resist the bill. As Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen said, their caucus had strong reservations about the deal, especially on the estate tax, but, “We're not going to hold this thing up at the end of the day…”
Van Hollen seemed to be suggesting House Democrats may hold a symbolic vote on estate taxes, but then another vote to approve the package as is and send it to the president.
There are other issues Democrats still have to or would like to tackle – a year-end spending bill, the START treaty and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” The longer they stall on the tax vote, the less chance they have of dealing with those priorities.
Also, now that the Senate has approved the deal, House Democrats have very little leverage. When the Republican majority comes in next month, they would immediately vote to approve the deal, which we now know would coast through the Senate, and then be signed by the president. The problem with that option is that it would create a number of logistical hurdles for the IRS, and it’s extremely difficult to write tax legislation retroactively.
There's no official roll call yet, but by my count, Democrats voting no: Sens. Jeff Bingaman, Russ Feingold, Pat Leahy, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Mark Udall, , Sherrod Brown, Kay Hagan and Carl Levin, Frank Lautenberg,
Republicans voting no: John Ensign, Tom Coburn, George Voinovich, Jeff Sessions, and Jim DeMint.
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