Hoyer: Committee leaders will decide who moves first on Bush tax cuts

"I know the Ways and Means Committee is discussing it with the Senate Finance Committee as to how we are going to proceed," he told reporters. "And I'm going to wait for those discussions before I get very deeply involved in that discussion on the process of who's going to consider what when." 

The Senate was originally supposed to move first. But stiff resistance from chamber Republicans and several Democrats to only extend the middle-class tax cuts has apparently forced Democratic leaders to rethink their strategy.  

Still, Hoyer did not know whether his chamber would vote to extend all the Bush tax cuts. 

"We haven't decided what we are going to do," he said.

The majority leader did indicate an openness to working out a compromise on the tax cuts, but also sent a strong signal that he opposes extending them for the wealthy.

"I believe that the Democratic process is a process of sitting down, talking to one another, trying to come to consensus so we can move forward," he said. "That does not mean you take actions which you don't believe are appropriate. I don't want to explode the deficit. ... That's a real concern and we need to have that in mind as we consider what we are going to do."

Hoyer also acknowledged that the struggling recovery has prompted several members in his party to call for an extension of all the Bush tax cuts. 

"Every member needs to take their own position on this issue as to what they think is appropriate," he said. "Every member."