The Impending Tax Deal

by Daniel Foster

It looks like this: Republicans get an extension of current tax rates for all Americans, on the order of two years (but possibly three, or even five, depending on your source), and in exchange Democrats get an extension of unemployment insurance benefits.

The mechanics of the deal remain unclear though. Will Republicans and Democrats alike let each piece of the compromise go through the regular order without a filibuster, or will each caucus have to cough up the handful of votes necessary to get to 60?

Senate Democratic leadership is not particularly happy — Whip Durbin (D., Ill.), expressing resignation on Face the Nation, said “We’re only moving [toward an across-the-board extension] against my judgment and my own particular view of things” — and neither is Speaker Pelosi. Some Democrats are even talking about allowing all the cuts to expire and extending the debate into the next Congress. All of this suggests Republicans might have to carry the weight on the compromise votes. 

But on the Republican side, things could get interesting if one or several Senators decide to take a stand — a la Senator Bunning — on offsets for any UI extension. Republican Leader McConnell (Ky.) says negotiations are still underway on whether the extension will be paid for.

One way or another, it seems likely that we’ll know by mid-week. The White House seems eager to clear the tax issue to get a vote on New START and possibly DADT, while Majority Leader Reid has his own priorities, including a potential DREAM Act vote.

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