Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Monday said that upcoming action in the U.S. House would make it clear to Americans where the priorities of their legislators lie.
Reid, speaking on the Senate floor, said he was pleased that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had agreed to bring up for a vote a tax cut extension bill that cleared the Senate last week.
The bill, which would extend Bush-Era tax cuts on all income less than $250,000, passed narrowly in the Senate after Republicans dropped a threat to filibuster the measure.
That allowed the Senate to advance the tax cut extensions by a vote of 51 to 48, rather than requiring it to reach the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster - a standard that has been applied to almost all contentious legislation this year.
Despite Boehner's pledge to allow the measure to come up for a vote, the measure is widely expected to fail in the Republican-dominated House, where many opposed to the bill have said that failing to extend tax breaks for those making more than $250,000 amounts to a tax increase on job creators.
If the tax cuts are not extended through this or other legislation they will automatically expire for all income levels at the end of the year, prompting Reid to call the situation a "fiscal cliff for middle class families."
"Every member of the House of Representatives should have the opportunity to show where they stand: with millionaires or with the middle class," Reid said. "Members can support Democrats' plan to cut taxes for 98 percent of Americans while reducing the deficit by almost $1 trillion."
He added, "Or they can support the Republican plan to hand out more tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires while increasing taxes for 25 million families struggling to put kids through college and food on the table."
Reid said that the differing approaches to tax policy highlight a "glaring difference" in the priorities of the two parties.
"There's another difference between the two plans: Democrats' proposal is the only one with a chance of actually becoming law," he said. "President [Barack] Obama has said he would sign it tomorrow. What he won't do is sign into law any more wasteful giveaways to the wealthiest two percent."
The Senate, Reid noted, had already defeated the Republican plan to extend all of the tax cuts, making it a "waste of time" for House Republicans to continue advancing the same agenda.
"House Republicans should stop holding the middle class hostage to extract more tax cuts for the richest of the rich. They should pass our middle class tax cut now," he said. "American families can't afford to wait until the last moment to find out what their bottom line will look like come January 1."
He added, "They need certainty now. And one simple vote can give them that certainty."
by RTT Staff Writer
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