President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden huddled privately with Congressional Democratic leaders in two weekend strategy sessions aimed at resolving the tax cut debate, Hill sources confirmed Sunday.
Obama met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) on Saturday afternoon at the White House, where he outlined a compromise he could support for extending the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts: one that temporarily extends the cuts for the wealthy in exchange for including an extension of unemployment insurance and other tax extenders, including the Making Work Pay tax credit.
Biden later hosted Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), Assistant to the Speaker Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and White House interim Chief of Staff Pete Rouse at his residence Saturday night for a nearly two-hour strategy session on the issue.
The president signaled Saturday that he is angling for a final bipartisan deal in the coming days. Republicans want an extension of the George W. Bush-era cuts for all income levels and continue to oppose Democratic efforts to create an income cap. Senate Democrats failed Saturday to advance a bill that would have extended the tax cuts for only up to $250,000. A separate bill that would have extended the cuts for up to $1 million was also rejected.
The tax cuts are set to expire this year.
“We need to redouble our efforts to resolve this impasse in the next few days to give the American people the peace of mind that their taxes will not go up on Jan. 1,” Obama said during remarks at the White House.
“I’m going to be rolling up my sleeves with the leaders of both parties in Congress,” he added. “We need to get this resolved, and I’m confident we can do it.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.