House passes tax cut extension
As the White House and congressional leaders negotiated over extending the Bush era tax cuts, the House Thursday voted to extend the majority of them, continuing tax rates for lower- and middle-income Americans.
The lower chamber passed the bill 234-188, sending it to the Senate, where Republicans have predicted it is dead on arrival.
Before the bill headed for a vote, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) foreshadowed that the bill may just be a foundation for a further compromise, a hint that the upper-bracket tax rates are likely to be extended as well.
“It will be this bill on which they will ultimately reach whatever compromise is available in the United States Senate … the compromise we all know is ultimately going to be necessary,” Hoyer said on the floor.
Three Republicans voted for the bill: Reps. Ron Paul of Texas, John Duncan of Tennessee and Walter Jones of North Carolina. Twenty Democrats joined the majority of Republicans and voted against the measure, illustrating the divide still prevalent in the party
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cast a rare vote for the bill, cementing this as a fundamental principle of the Democratic Party.
Republicans positioned the vote as a cheap political trick that undermines serious negotiations with the White House. Democrats, on the other hand, said the GOP was holding the middle class hostage for the richest Americans. Earlier in the day, House Minority Leader John Boehner, the Ohio Republican who will be speaker in the next Congress, called the vote “chicken crap.”
The White House applauded the move, saying extending these rates is “the most important thing we can do for our economy right now.”
“But because Republicans have made it clear that they won’t pass a middle-class extension without also extending tax cuts for the wealthy, the president has asked Director [Jack] Lew and Secretary [Timothy] Geithner to work with Congress to find a way forward,” the White House said in a statement. “Those discussions started just yesterday and are continuing this afternoon. The talks are ongoing and productive, but any reports that we are near a deal in the tax cuts negotiations are inaccurate and premature.”
Several defeated Democrats voted against the measure, perhaps foreshadowing a political future. Among them are Reps. Ron Klein of Florida, Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota, Mike McMahon of New York, Walt Minnick of Iowa and Gene Taylor of Mississippi. Democratic Reps. Brian Baird of Washington and Artur Davis of Alabama, both retiring, voted against the measure. Democrats remaining in Congress who voted with the majority of Republicans include Reps. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Lloyd Doggett of Texas, Jim Matheson of Utah, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Jerry McNerney of California, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Bobby Scott of Virginia, Mike Thompson of California and Pete Visclosky of Indiana.
Twelve members didn’t vote, including two lawmakers who just won statewide races: incoming Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and incoming Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
The move also takes care of a whole slew of tax provisions, including enhancements to the child tax credit, the alternative minimum tax, capital gains and dividends taxes, earned income tax credit rules and education tax incentives.