Democrats have filed a petition in an effort to force a House floor vote on a bill that would extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for middle-income families. The measure has already passed in the Senate.
However, a technicality in the House rules governing such discharge motions would prevent the measure from being considered before Dec. 24 at the earliest — even if some Republicans join in supporting it, which they are not expected to do.
A central point of contention in the ongoing fiscal-cliff negotiations is the primary stumbling block. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed its bill in July to extend the Bush-era tax cuts. The cuts are set to expire on Jan. 1, 2013 for families earning $250,000 a year and less.
The plan would let taxes rise on incomes above $250,000. House Republicans have passed a bill that would freeze the current rates for all earners —including those with incomes that rise above $250,000-per-year threshold. Because of that objection, Republicans have refused to take up the Senate bill.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) suggested that the idea of the House being in session on Christmas Eve and voting to prevent tax rates from increasing on Jan. 1 should not be considered unrealistic because he can remember doing so in the Senate.
He said, “Americans expect the Congress to work. Americans expect us to come to agreement” on resolving the looming fiscal-cliff crisis, including the expiring tax cuts.
Tuesday’s filing in the House of the Democrats’ discharge petition — officially by Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota — means the measure is now open for signatures from lawmakers. It will advance if a majority of House members sign it. There are currently 433 House members, meaning 217 would have to sign on. There are 241 Republicans and 192 Democrats in the chamber.
You may click here to see House rules http://democrats.rules.house.gov/archives/discharge_pet.htm that would affect it. That means Dec. 24 for this discharge petition is the earliest it could ever be considered.
Rep. Hoyer said he expects most Democrats to sign the petitions. He said he hopes a number of Republicans “will reflect” and sign it as well, noting that Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) is among Republicans who have indicated openness to working with Democrats in passing the middle-class tax freeze now.