The Senate could take up legislation aimed at extending a set of George W. Bush-era tax cuts as soon as Friday, even as the chamber’s Democratic caucus remains deeply divided over how to proceed on the issue.
According to Senate GOP and Democratic aides, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) appears to be taking steps to bring a House-passed tax measure that only extends those cuts that apply to the middle class. But the timing of the bill in the Senate remains in flux.
At this point, how Reid will proceed remains up in the air. Although a vote on a middle-class-only extension is all but certain, lawmakers said the path forward is murky beyond that.
While the White House and Republicans have all but agreed to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts for several years, House and Senate Democrats are still resisting that arrangement. Additionally, while those broad parameters may be settled, what other pieces of the puzzle will be included — such as unemployment insurance or a set of tax cuts included in last year’s stimulus bill — have yet to be determined.
Further complicating Reid’s decision-making is the fact that his Conference is divided between those who want to take a stand on middle-class-only cuts and those who want to simply be done with the issue.
And a Thursday afternoon closed-door meeting appeared to have done little to settle those differences.
Asked if the meeting had helped make progress, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said, “Yes. But it doesn’t mean real close. ... I don’t get the sense that a deal is imminent.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.