Republicans moved on Monday to try to force Democrats to bring up legislation to freeze tax rates and cut spending, as Democrats themselves put the GOP on the spot on tax issues.
Ranking GOP members of three key committees wrote their respective committees' Democratic chairmen to pressure them to bring up legislation on House Minority Leader John Boehner's (Ohio) economic proposals.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), meanwhile, challenged Democratic leaders to allow a vote on legislation to extend expiring tax cuts across all income brackets.
The maneuver by House Republicans came on Monday as lawmakers returned to Washington for several weeks of legislative business before breaking again ahead of November's midterm elections. The GOP push also comes in response to new pressure from the White House, which seized on a suggestion by Boehner over the weekend that he could back a tax-cut extension that doesn't include the high-end cuts, which the Republican Party has demanded be included with the extension of all the other tax cuts set to expire at year's end.
Ways and Means Committee ranking member Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Appropriations Committee ranking member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) and Budget Committee ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) all wrote their committees' top Democrats to ask that they take up Boehner's plan to freeze those expiring taxes at their current levels for the next two years.
"We write today to formally request that we begin talks immediately on such legislation, with the aim of sending it to the president's desk for signature before Congress adjourns this fall," they wrote in a letter to be released later on Monday.
"The spending cuts would be enacted now, to avert the possibility of Congress using a lame duck session to pass a bloated spending bill for next year after the November elections, and would include common-sense exceptions for programs affecting our seniors, veterans, and national security," they added. “Leaving town at the end of this month or early next month without acting on both of these priorities would send a grim signal to the American people that this Congress and the Obama administration are still not focused on the critical issue of jobs."
Cantor also called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Obama to allow an up-or-down vote on extending tax cuts for all income brackets, which Republicans expressed confidence about passing if given the chance.
"I am calling on Speaker Pelosi and President Obama to allow all members of the House —Republican and Democrat — to vote on legislation that would prevent tax increases for every American," he said.
Ryan said on CNBC that Republicans in the House and Senate have the votes to advance such legislation.
"if you put this on the floor, extending all of the tax cuts, we will win that vote. We're pretty much convinced of that. So what Boehner has said is 'let's at least have all tax rates go for two more years on everybody,' " he said. "We think we have the votes for that in the House and the Senate."