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Pelosi Taking Tax Plan Back to Caucus

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking the tax cut package back to her Caucus after Democratic leaders miscalculated the hard-core opposition to it from a number of liberal lawmakers.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, who is leading the opposition to the measure as it stands, said that a revolt from Democrats upset with the package appeared to be preventing leadership “from going forward with a jam-down.”

The Oregon Democrat was in a scrum on the House floor with the Speaker and other House leaders, and he said the California Democrat told him she thought the Caucus had lined up behind pushing a single amendment tweaking the estate tax language. Many House Democrats are upset with the estate language in the $858 billion plan.

But DeFazio said he told Pelosi that a number of Members have far broader concerns. Many Members also objected to a procedure that would have forced them to back the underlying tax measure if they wanted to adjust the estate tax provisions in it.

DeFazio said he is pushing for a vote on an amendment by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) that would significantly alter the overall bill. The Weiner language, which was offered in the Rules Committee on Wednesday night, would have eliminated the payroll tax holiday and replaced it with an extension of President Barack Obama’s $800-per-family Making Work Pay tax cut. That change would prevent tax increases for families making less than $40,000 under the Senate-passed bill while costing less money. It would also include a cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients.

“We think we need to make a strong statement,” DeFazio said.

Weiner’s package makes several other changes aimed at making the bill more appealing to liberals, and DeFazio said he would change from “no” to “yes” on the rule if Weiner’s amendment was made in order.

He said leadership is still talking about bringing a tax measure to the floor sometime Thursday night.

The Caucus is scheduled to meet at 3:45 p.m. but also has other work on its agenda — ratifying picks for ranking members on committees for the 112th Congress.