Reid: GOP should side with Dems and avoid tax increases on middle class, future defaults

Reid wants the House to hold a vote on the Senate-passed Middle Class Tax Cut Act, which would extend the Bush-era tax rates only for those making less than $250,000. The number of Republicans calling for a vote on the measure in the House has increased as the deadline for when the tax rates expire approaches.

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“Republicans face a real difficult choice here,” Reid said on the floor Monday. “Will they cooperate with Democrats and help avoid a tax increase on 98 percent of the Americans? Or will they force us to lurch from one crisis to the next?

“We need long-term solutions ... so the House should take up the Senate’s Middle Class Tax Cut Act.”

Republicans have said raising tax rates on any income bracket would harm the economy.

Reid also said Democrats are willing to vote at any time on a proposal from McConnell addressing the debt ceiling. S. 3664 would give the White House the authority to expand the debt ceiling on its own through an executive order but would treat that order as a "major rule" that could be reviewed by Congress under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

“Democrats are ready to vote on the minority leader’s plan at any time he wants to stop filibustering his own bill,” Reid said.

Obama’s proposal also would raise $1.6 trillion through higher taxes, find $400 billion in savings from entitlements and spend $50 billion on measures to stimulate the economy. McConnell said Democrats wouldn't want to vote on the plan because it raises taxes on small businesses.

Republicans have said it is a one-sided offer that shows the White House isn’t serious about the talks. House Republicans this week made a counteroffer that includes $800 billion in new tax revenues, but the White House rejected it, demanding higher tax rates on the wealthy.

While deficit deals are being negotiated off the floor, the Senate was expected to hold a vote on a motion to proceed to S. 3637, which would extend a guarantee program for certain bank accounts, a move major financial institutions say is critical to maintaining the stability of the financial system. Reid said that heavy fog in the Northeast has delayed several senators’ flights, meaning they wouldn’t make it back to Washington, D.C. in time for the vote. Reid postponed that vote, which was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, until 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday.