By Russell Berman - 09/24/10 05:06 PM EDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats’ criticism of GOP leader John Boehner (Ohio) does not compare to the personal attacks Republicans have levied against her for years.
Democratic leaders, including President Obama, have tried to elevate Boehner, the potential Republican Speaker, as a way to put a face on the GOP heading into the midterm elections.
“Whatever comments some may have made about Mr. Boehner, I don’t think you could in any way compare it to the money that is being spent on the ads across the country personally attacking me,” Pelosi said. “It just goes to show they don’t have anything to offer.”
For three consecutive elections, Republicans have run ads tying Democratic candidates to Pelosi, whom they have denounced as a San Francisco liberal out of the political mainstream.
Pelosi also offered a guarantee that Congress would extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class before they expire at the end of the year. She brushed aside the Senate’s decision on Thursday to delay a vote on the issue until a lame-duck session — a move that has outraged liberals.
“America’s middle class will have a tax cut. It will be done in this Congress. There is no question about that,” the Speaker said.
Pelosi disputed the suggestion that punting on the tax-cut issue would hurt Democrats in the midterm elections. She said from Obama on down, Democrats have made their position clear.
“There isn’t a person in our caucus that isn’t for tax cuts for the middle class. It’s not about the election. It’s about the policy,” Pelosi said. “Members, with a vote or without a vote, can go home and talk about their commitment to that.”
Still, the Speaker did not rule out a House vote on the tax cuts before the election, even if the Senate doesn’t act. “We will retain the right to proceed as we choose,” Pelosi said.
In leadership meetings, Pelosi has pushed for the House to vote on the issue, while Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has urged against a vote unless the Senate acts first. Many centrist and vulnerable House Democrats want the vote postponed until after the election.
After the press conference, a Pelosi aide confirmed that a final decision on holding a tax cut vote had yet to be made. The aide said that if a “clarifying vote” were held, it would likely be conducted under suspension rules, requiring a two-thirds majority to pass. The idea would be to force Republicans to vote solely on an extension of middle-class tax cuts without a simultaneous vote on extending cuts for upper income brackets, as the GOP and some Democrats want.
Yet Democrats concede the vote is unlikely, especially after Hoyer announced Thursday that the House would be in session for just two days next week before adjourning for the campaign trail. The most pressing order of business is to pass a stopgap measure to continue funding the government after Sept. 30.