Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday night warned House Democrats against making any changes to the Senate’s tax cut bill, saying it would torpedo the package.
The Kentucky Republican’s comments came in a statement shortly after the Senate agreed to move toward final passage of the tax measure, which would extend Bush-era tax cuts for two years and unemployment benefits for 13 months. McConnell struck the deal with the White House last week.
“We now urge the House leadership to bring this bipartisan agreement to a vote without political games or partisan changes designed only to block this bill’s passage in the House. If the House Democratic Leadership decides to make partisan changes, they will ensure that every American taxpayer will see a job-killing tax hike on January 1st,” McConnell said in the statement.
But House Democrats seem intent on trying to change the bill.
“We find the Senate bill in its current form unacceptable, and there will be changes made, especially as they relate to the most egregious provisions, like the estate tax, which puts a $25 billion hole in the deficit — $25 billion over two years — to benefit the wealthiest 6,600 estates,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said earlier Monday. “At a time when we’re trying to reduce the deficit, it makes no sense to put us into that kind of debt to China for the wealthiest estates. It wasn’t a necessary part of the deal and shouldn’t be there.”
The Senate voted 83-15 Monday night to move toward final passage of the measure. Senators are expected to approve the bill Tuesday and send it to the House for consideration.
As expected, most Senate Republicans voted to invoke cloture — or end a filibuster of the bill. Also voting yes were a handful Democrats who had vowed to fight the deal, including Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Benjamin Cardin (Md.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Al Franken (Minn.).
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.