The House Democratic Caucus voted Thursday morning against bringing up the tax cut deal negotiated earlier this week by President Barack Obama unless changes are made.
“The House will not take it up in its current form,” said Rep Peter DeFazio, who made the motion for the Caucus vote. The voice vote was virtually unanimous, according to DeFazio.
“We have tremendous concerns about what was given away by the White House” to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Oregon Democrat added.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a press release shortly afterward, saying leaders will try to improve the package that includes a two-year extension of Bush-era tax cuts and a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits.
“We will continue discussions with the president and our Democratic and Republican colleagues in the days ahead to improve the proposal before it comes to the House floor for a vote,” she said.
“Democratic priorities remain clear: to provide a tax cut for working families, to create jobs and economic growth, to assist millions of our fellow Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and to do this in a fiscally sound way.”
Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) also told reporters of several changes the House wants, including a less generous estate tax exemption and tax breaks for green jobs.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who wrote the resolution, said he believes Pelosi will not defy Members’ will and bring a bill to the floor without fixes.
“I don’t think there is any doubt she will follow the Caucus,” the Texas Democrat said.
Earlier Thursday, Obama called the tax deal an “essential priority” and said its passage will determine whether the economy “moves forward or backward.” If the package fails to advance by the end of the year, “Americans would see it in smaller paychecks that would have the effect of fewer jobs,” Obama said during remarks at the White House.
A White House spokeswoman suggested the House Democratic revolt is all part of the negotiation process.
“The House and Senate are working through the normal process of bringing a bill forward, and we are confident that the major components of the tax framework that we fought for will remain in the final package brought to the floor and ultimately passed by Congress,” the spokeswoman said.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said he was “proud” to vote against the deal, calling it a “hastily produced package.”
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.