Moments ago, House Rules Committee chair Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.) told reporters “we are going to put an extra vote in” to the rule governing debate on the tax deal.
House Democrats say there will likely be a total of four votes tonight related to the tax bill:
1) A vote to amend the existing rule to include a simple up-or-down vote on the tax deal.
2) A vote on the rule itself
3) A vote on the Pomeroy amendment, which would increase estate tax rates from the levels in the Senate bill.
4) A vote on final passage of the bill.
If 1-4 all pass, the bill would go to the Senate, where it is likely dead in the water. If the Pomeroy amendment fails, and the Senate version of the bill is passed unchanged, it would go directly to the president’s desk.
The situation is very fluid, and the Democrats are even as we speak introducing the rule on the House floor.
UPDATE: The Democrats have introduced their new rule, and in a floor exchange between Rules Committee chair Slaughter and ranking member Rep. David Dreier (R., Calif.), its contours have been confirmed as reported above.
“There is very little change,” Slaughter told Dreier of the Democrats’ strategy. ”We may, or may not, ask for the ability to have a separate vote” on final passage. Slaughter said that under the previous rule, the failure of the Pomeroy amendment would have prompted a separate up-or-down vote on the tax bill, whereas the success of Pomeroy would have deemed the bill passed in toto.
“There were many members who felt they needed that extra vote,” Slaughter said. ”We are simply adding as a precaution…an ability to have that up-or-down vote regardless” of the fate of Pomeroy.
Presumably, the new rule gives the Democrats the votes they need to proceed. But the key vote is Pomeroy. If the amendment succeeds, the tax bill’s fate is put in serious jeopardy. If it fails, the president can sign it before Christmas.