President Barack Obama’s deal with Republicans to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts received an icy reception from Senate Democrats, who were clearly unhappy to be asked to swallow such a bitter pill.
Some, such as Sen. Frank Lautenberg, were openly hostile. Although Lautenberg was still studying the plan, he made clear he may actively work to block the bill.
“I want to support an active response against this great American travesty,” the New Jersey Democrat said when asked if he would support a threatened filibuster of the bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
While Finance Chairman Max Baucus initially described the bill as “a good start for the middle-class taxpayer,” an aide later made clear that the Montana Democrat remains undecided about whether he will support it.
“He’s looking at it closely to make sure it’s a good deal for the middle class,” the aide said.
Others, such as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, simply didn’t want to talk about it. When asked if he would share his general thoughts on the agreement, the Rhode Island Democrat grimly said, “No.”
Despite the grousing, it appears at this point that Majority Leader Harry Reid will likely be able to muster enough votes for the bill.
The only Republican who is expected to oppose the bill is retiring Sen. George Voinovich (Ohio), who on Monday came out against extending any of the tax cuts. Starting with a base of 41 GOP votes, Reid will only need 20 of his Members to vote for the bill, a number even liberal opponents think the Nevada Democrat can muster.
“The answer is probably yes,” a veteran Democratic aide said when asked if there are enough Democratic supporters to break a filibuster, even in the face of stiff opposition from liberal Members.
Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee cranked up its e-mail list Tuesday in an effort to help tamp down discontent, sending out e-mails to subscribers that included sympathetic reviews of the agreement.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.