Tax Bill Moves Ahead in Senate
With more than 60 Senators having voted to advance the tax cut deal he negotiated with Republicans, President Obama is hailing their vote as a victory for the American public and proof that Democrats and Republicans can work together.
Speaking at the White House while the Senate's vote was in its concluding stages, Obama said that while the deal wasn't perfect, he believes it represents "a substantial victory" for middle-class families who won't face tax hikes and for unemployed Americans who need an extension of unemployment benefits. He also highlighted the deal's provisions creating tax breaks for education expenses and for American businesses who invest in new equipment.
The Senate vote was actually a procedural vote to advance the bill to the next stage of the Senate's process, meaning the bill won't be formally approved until tomorrow, but it's passage is all but guaranteed.
House Democrats are insisting on a vote to modify the deal's estate tax provisions that would returning the estate tax to 2009 levels instead of the lower level called for in the bill. It's not clear exactly whether House Democrats are planning a vote that would actually change the language of the Senate bill, or if they plan a more symbolic vote. If they do change the Senate bill, it would head back to the Senate, but if they pass the Senate language, it will head to President Obama's desk for his signature.
Update: Greg Sargent looks at the story on the House side of the equation. The basic thrust seems to be this: House Dems are looking for a way to get people on the record about the most egregious elements of this deal without actually scuttling the deal completely. And that will mean either symbolic votes that if passed don't have teeth, or votes that are likely to fail.