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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Not so fast; House Democrats reject first procedural vote on HR-4853, Pres. Obama tax cut bill

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Liberal Democrats in the House of Representatives appear, so far, not to be conceding to Republican and President Obama urgent demands to pass same version of HR-4853-The Middle Class Tax Relief-Unemployment Extension bill as the Senate. 

A final House vote on the tax proposal could be slightly delayed after Democratic leaders were forced to pull a procedural measure off the House floor December 16th.

On Wednesday Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-KY) stated that if any changes are made to the measure in the House, the 'compromise deal' with President Obama, the agreement with Senate Republicans is in jeopardy.

“This agreement is not subject to being reopened,” stated Mitch McConnell on December 14th. “I hope that our friends in the House will understand that that’s the best way to go forward — simply pass the Senate bill, get it down to a president who supports the understanding,” he added.

Regardless, proposals the House could add to HR-4853 include a one year deferment of 2 percent deductions in Social Security withholdings, amendments to the estate tax provision and a two-year extension of unemployment benefits to jobless workers less than 73-99 weeks.

“We’re just trying to work out some kinks,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), a floor manager for the tax bill, told the Hill reporters

McGovern characterized the decision to pull the procedural measure off the floor as “a bump” and said he did not think the House would have to delay a final vote past Thursday. Yet he said it was unclear what the next move was, and that Democratic leaders were huddling over how to proceed.

No provisions are being brought forward at this time in the House to provide additional jobless benefits to '99ers', which include an estimated 6 Million unemployed job seekers who have exhausted between 73-99 weeks of the supplement income benefits. For the '99er' group it appears the longest-term unemployed have been left out on the cold in the House objections to HR-4853.

Under the rule approved in the House on December 15th, lawmakers would first vote on an amendment to the estate tax provision of the tax bill. If that measure passed, the entire tax bill would return to the Senate for passage, as House Representatives would have then approved the underlying measure with the single change to the estate tax, with thus amended the original version of the bill. 

Liberals Democrats in the House objected the procedure, stating they wanted an opportunity to reject the entire bill, not just the estate tax provision.

House aides predict the legislation will ultimately pass un-amended, but the issue with the measure on the floor has thrown the outcome temporarily into doubt.

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