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Senate Planning Tax Votes

Senate Democratic and Republican leaders were negotiating a deal Thursday night to allow a handful of votes Friday on the fate of Bush-era tax cuts, including a full extension of all the cuts, as favored by the GOP, as well as Democrats’ proposal to only extend those applying to the middle class.

Although no formal deal was in place Thursday night, it appeared likely Republicans would not filibuster action on the tax cuts “assuming we’re heading towards an endgame, the goal is preventing taxes from going up. We are not all comfortable with taking a couple cover votes and then leaving,” a senior GOP aide said.

With the House passing the tax bill 234-188 Thursday evening, formal action has temporarily moved to the Senate floor.

Under the proposed scenario being discussed, the Senate would vote on at least two Democratic substitute amendments to the House bill. The first, sponsored by Finance Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.), would extend tax cuts to those making less than $250,000 a year.

The Senate will also vote on a second Democratic amendment backed by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would raise the cap to $1 million a year in income.

Republicans would also get votes on competing amendments, with one being a full permanent extension of all the tax cuts. Details of the second GOP proposal were being kept under wraps Thursday night.

None of those votes are expected to pass and are largely message amendments aimed at the two parties’ bases.

Meanwhile, Democrats were meeting Thursday night to again discuss the tax issue behind closed doors. Although it appears all but certain that the final bill will include a short-term extension of all the tax cuts for two to three years, Democrats on Capitol Hill have continued to resist that approach.

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