Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday blamed Republican stalling tactics for not being able to extend tax breaks that were enacted under President George W. Bush.
"Maybe if they stop stalling everything that comes to the floor we might be able to get to that stuff," he told reporters, adding, "We'll get to that when we get through unemployment insurance, Wall Street reform, and a few other things."
Congress passed the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 when Republicans controlled both chambers. Those tax breaks, which benefit a large swath of the economy, are slated to expire in January.
Republicans have long argued that extending these tax breaks is necessary to keep the economy from sliding back into a recession. Democratic leaders have vowed to pass them as soon as possible.
But delays in the Senate are causing a bottleneck in the upper chamber, with the House passing legislation that can never be debated in the Senate, largely because of Republicans making use of the filibuster option.
Democrats back the extension of tax cuts benefiting the middle class, as well as protecting them from the alternative minimum tax. They would also like to keep the estate tax from reverting back to pre-2001 levels, when estates worth roughly $1.2 million were slapped with a 55 percent tax.
Most tax lobbyists expect Congress to extend these measure for two years, which some congressional sources say could cost more than $250 billion.
Also, under pay-as-you-go rules, a two-year extension of these provisions does not have to be offset.