Grassley concerned Reid might bigfoot Finance Committee decision on Bush tax cuts

"We Republicans are for negotiating a bipartisan compromise, [and] we want to make sure the rug is not pulled out from under us by the Democratic Leader," he told reporters on Thursday.

Grassley's unease stems from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in February drastically cutting back a jobs bill that the Iowan senator and Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) had just introduced. 

Reid cut their $85 billion measure to approximately $15 billion, in large part by stripping provisions extending recently expired tax breaks. Grassley said the majority leader gave them no notice of the change. 

"We put [the bill] out," Grassley said. "Two days later, Baucus reads in the paper 'Reid scuttles Baucus bill.' So [there is] a legitimate question about Reid's involvement ... So much of this is done in the secrecy of Reid's office."

The Finance Committee is expected to discuss whether to mark up legislation before the August break that would extend at least part the Bush tax cuts. 

Democratic leaders would like to extend the Bush tax cuts that benefit the middle class and allow those for the wealthy to expire. But a weak economic recovery has caused some Democratic members to rethink that strategy. 

"I'm open to looking at other options," Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) told reporters. "If they [tax writers] want to do some modified approach, I'm open to that. I don't want to be punitive on the top 5 percent." 

Pryor joins Democratic senators such as Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (N.D.) who think the sluggish recovery might be reason enough to postpone a tax hike on the wealthy. 

Grassley said Democrats could face political consequences for delaying action on the Bush tax cuts. 

"Surely Democrats don't want to go home in the fall election and be faced with the accusation that we're going to have the biggest tax increase in the history of the country without a vote of the people," Grassley said. "And whether or not cynical voters would be satisfied with [Democrats] saying they're going to do it in a lame duck session."