April 17, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Congress Can’t Seem to Let Go

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl and other Republicans on Tuesday railed against Democratic plans to push an omnibus spending bill.

The omnibus bill will also face a multipronged filibuster from Republicans along with other tactics intended to slow it down or kill it.

“Democrats haven’t given Republicans or the American people time to read the bill, but I’ll join with other Republican colleagues to force them to read it on the Senate floor,” Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) said Tuesday.

Additionally, while Democratic leadership aides said Reid’s strategy hinged in part on getting GOP appropriators to vote for the bill, McConnell indicated that might not happen.

“I’m vigorously in opposition to it. And most of the members of the committee are as well,” he said. If GOP appropriators do oppose the bill, it could make it impossible for Reid to break Republicans’ filibuster.

In the House, a strategy to wrap up work for the year remained in a holding pattern Tuesday as Democratic leaders struggled to find a way forward on the tax measure.

Democratic leaders huddled privately for more than two hours Tuesday afternoon to plot an endgame strategy but did not emerge with a clear path forward.

“We’re considering options, and we’re going to talk to the Caucus about that,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said. “We may be making some proposed recommendations and then they’ll have an opportunity to debate them, discuss them ... We’ll receive input from the Caucus and then figure out where to go from there.”

The Democratic Caucus, which was slated to meet after press time, was also expected to consider a resolution proposed by Rep. David Wu (Ore.) stipulating that the House would only consider legislation that would extend unemployment benefits at least as long as it extends tax cuts for the wealthy. However, Wu withdrew his resolution at the request of Caucus Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.).

Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter said there would likely be at least a few amendments made in order to the bill.

Any changes made in the House would require that the bill be sent back to the Senate for another vote.

Slaughter predicted that there would be a vote “of some kind” on the Senate package but declined to speculate further. “We’ll be prepared when the time comes,” the New York Democrat said.

Democratic leaders have indicated that they may try to change — or at least give Members a chance to register opposition to — the Senate’s estate tax language, which would impose a 35 percent tax on estates worth more than $5 million. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer acknowledged Tuesday that House leaders could try to replace that provision with House-passed imposing a 45 percent tax on estates worth more than $3.5 million.

Blue Dog Coalition leaders were circulating a letter to Pelosi on Tuesday night asking her to quickly schedule a vote on the Senate tax bill ­­— without changes — once it is sent over.

Hoyer left open the possibility that the House could work the weekend — or into next week — to finish its work for the year.

But the Maryland Democrat conceded that House leaders were “going to have to make a decision pretty soon” on how to proceed with tax cuts, given the fast-approaching Christmas holiday.

“I haven’t even put up my tree, much less decorated it,” he joked. “I tell you what, I’m getting worried.”

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