Grassley accuses Democrats of slow-walking estate tax fix

"We're almost half a year away from a tax policy that a super majority of senators say they don't support," Grassley said. "Yet, we're stuck. This time-sensitive issue has taken a back seat to everything else." 

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) is equally troubled by the fate of the estate tax even though his chamber passed legislation that could keep the tax increase from happening. His chamber moved a bill that applies a 45 percent tax on estates worth over $3.5 million for individuals and $7 million for couples.

But Pascrell says without Senate action, steps taken by the House mean very little. 

"Just because we passed something out of here doesn't mean we have our act together," he told The Hill. "So I don't want to hear that the Senate doesn't have its act together. We don't have our act together." 

Without congressional intervention, Grassley says the estate tax will raise approximately $250 billion beginning in 2011. 

"That's just not right," Grassley said. 

Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) are expected to offer an amendment in the upcoming debate on small business legislation that would tax estates worth more than $5 million at a 35 percent rate. Their proposal has broad bipartisan support and would tax a small portion of the estates that would be affected by current law. 

"Under current law, 44,000 estates will be taxable," Grassley said. "Under the Lincoln-Kyl compromise, 4,000 estates would be taxable. Current law, the path we seem to be slow-walking on, means 10 times the number of estates will be hit by the tax."