Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) indicated Thursday that Democrats are unlikely to bring up a vote on Bush-era tax cuts before the election because neither party’s position is likely to pass.
“The reality is — in this political climate, before the election — we are not going to resolve this issue in a matter of a week or two,” Durbin said. “It will most likely be resolved after the heat of the campaign is decided and cooler heads prevail.”
Durbin’s comments came after a Senate Democratic Conference meeting in which the Members again split over whether it made sense to hold a vote on a Democratic proposal to extend only those Bush administration tax cuts for couples making $250,000 or less ($200,000 for individuals).
Politically vulnerable Members have argued that a vote would not help them politically, but some Senators, including a few up for re-election, have argued that a vote would create a clear contrast between the parties. With Republicans demanding that all Bush tax cuts be extended to avoid tax increases during an economic downturn, Democrats say the GOP has proved it only cares about the wealthy and is willing to hold up tax cuts for 97 percent of Americans.
Durbin acknowledged the intraparty dispute, but said: “Even those that were calling for a vote knew that we couldn’t pass it. At the end of the day, we were not going to get any Republicans to support us. They are not interested in working with us on this. They think they have a strong issue. They don’t want to give that up. We don’t want to give up our position.”
He added, “It’s more likely to be resolved after the election.”
Instead, Durbin said Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would likely set up a vote next week on a bill to eliminate tax breaks for companies that move operations and jobs overseas.
“I think we’re going to move to outsourcing, which I hope we do,” Durbin said. “This is a major concern; there’s a clear difference between the parties.”
The only other measure the Senate must pass before adjourning, likely at the end of next week, is a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through the elections. The House and Senate have been debating who should move first on that measure, but spending and revenue measures traditionally originate in the House. In this case, however, House Democratic leaders have asked the Senate to take the lead, but Senate leaders have balked, given they will likely have to file time-consuming motions to break an expected GOP-led filibuster.
One Senate Democratic aide said Thursday that Republicans are expected to object to providing additional funding in the CR for implementation of the recently passed financial services regulation overhaul.