By Jay Heflin - 05/19/10 07:49 PM EDT
The bill currently provides a 5-year doc fix that costs approximately $88 billion. Pay-as-you-go rules prohibit the figure from needing offsets. Senators are balking at its price tag and want to shorten the length of the fix by about 4 years.
"The 5-year fix, we can't get 2 Republican [senators] to support it," said Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), a Ways and Means member.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), also on Ways and Means, said House negotiators want to secure Senate support for the bill before it is introduced.
"We want to make sure that the Senate is on board before we move something," he told reporters.
Still, it is unclear if the Senate will accept an extender bill that contains a shorter doc fix.
Several senators have expressed concern that the bill would increase the tax on compensation designated as "carried interest." Some in that chamber have said that the votes aren't there unless the provision is either modified or stricken from the bill.
The legislation seeks to ultimately tax carried interest at ordinary income rates. It is currently taxed at the much-lower capital gains rate. Senators have warned that the tax increase would have negative consequences on the economy.
Given the fact that the Senate must sign-off on the bill, Levin's prognosis of completing the legislation in 2 days could be optimistic, other lawmakers have said.
They predict shoring up Senate support for a tax increase on carried interest and a short-term doc fix that is not offset will be time-consuming and push the House vote on the legislation into next week, at the earliest.
Berkley said enough House Democrats will support the bill to pass it from her chamber. She also suggested sending the bill to the Senate irrespective of its support there.
"If the Republicans want to filibuster a jobs-tax extender bill that contains an extension of unemployment insurance, contains COBRA benefits, that provides reimbursements for the doctors that take care of Medicare patients, I'd like to see that," she said. "I'd like to see that debate on the floor of the Senate and I think that we do ourselves a disservice by not standing up and calling their bluff."