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Obama-GOP Tax Bill Set to Pass the House Today

December 16, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE 4: After more than 6 hours of delay, the Democrats passed a slightly revised rule by a 214-201 vote. The new rule doesn’t change how many or which amendments will be voted on, it just allows for a separate up-or-down vote on the bill even if the estate tax amendment passes. The original rule would have deemed the bill passed once the amendment is passed.

UPDATE 3: TPM:

As long as they’re being set up to fail, progressives want that measure to include a whole range of changes to the bill.

“The problem with the Rule [which provides the blueprint for debate] was that it did not allow members who were opposed to it in broader ways than just the estate tax to have an opportunity to vote against [those issues],” Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who supports Obama’s plan, told me in a brief interview. “You had an opportunity to amend the estate provision, but not [extensions for] the millionaire, billionaire side.”

The likely vehicle for these bigger changes was introduced to the Rules Committee last night by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). It includes the estate tax, but would also swap out the payroll tax holiday with a renewal of the Making Work Pay tax credit, and provide a cost of living adjustment for seniors on Social Security, among other things.

These are positions most Democrats are already on the record voting for. So why grind the House to a halt to do it all over again? “This is the last opportunity we have,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). “And yeah, we’re on record voting on a whole bunch of things at a time when people weren’t paying attention. People are paying attention now.”

UPDATE 2: Swampland: “Progressives are demanding a clean vote up or down on the original package — unamended — so they can register their opposition.”

UPDATE: House leadership has pulled the rule from the floor. The votes must not be there to proceed to debate allowing one amendment vote. It’s unclear right now whether the rule will be amended to allow no amendments, more votes on amendments that satisfy Dems, or votes on amendments favored by Republicans. Either way, this is likely a temporary setback and things are probably still on track for passage.

Original post below. I’ll be rolling updates on this post, so check back again shortly for more (and follow along on Twitter)…

The House Rules Committee met last night to hammer out the rule that will govern today’s House debate of the Obama-GOP tax bill, and, as expected, they’re protecting it by allowing only one amendment vote. There will be no votes on letting the upper-income tax rates expire, making the payroll tax provision less regressive, lengthening the unemployment insurance filing extension, or adding an extra tier of benefits for the 99ers. The only vote allowed will be on an amendment to raise the estate tax from the Senate’s very low level to the almost-as-low 2009 level as set by Bush, and House leaders are whipping against this because they don’t want to have to send the bill back to the Senate.

Despite the Democrats nearly unanimous internal caucus vote last week that they oppose the Obama-GOP deal, the Democratic establishment from Obama on down is doing everything they can to ram this through. According to Rep. Pete DeFazio [D, OR-4], Obama has been calling up House Dems to warn that failing to pass the bill would mean the end of his presidency.

The voting will go down later this afternoon, around 5 p.m., and the most likely scenario is that the estate tax amendment is rejected and the underlying bill is passed with almost all Republicans voting “yes” along with a few dozen Blue Dogs and New Dems. If the Democrats manage to stick together on the estate tax amendment and pass it, the bill will have to be sent back to the Senate for follow-up action. Senate Republicans have vowed to reject any changes to the Bush tax cuts provisions, including the estate tax deal, so this is the only possibility for things to get tripped up. But it’s not likely to happen. According to The Hill, “House leadership aides said privately they doubted the Pomeroy proposal [i.e. the estate tax amendment] would pass, given the pledges by Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats to oppose the change.”

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