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Schumer: GOP wants a 'divorce' from Norquist

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Republicans are seeking a “divorce” from the anti-tax pledge sponsored by Grover Norquist and his group Americans for Tax Reform. 

“For three decades a right-wing lobbyist has exercised a stranglehold on Republican lawmakers,” Schumer said on the floor Tuesday. “Today one Republican after another have been rebuking this lobbyist. 

“They no longer want to be married to this pledge — they’re saying they want a divorce from Grover Norquist.”

This week, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said they’d break the pledge they signed saying they’d never raise taxes. Schumer called this progress, but demanded that higher taxes on the wealthy still be part of any deficit-reduction deal.

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Democrats are suggesting that the Bush-era tax rates are extended only for families making less than $250,000 a year. Republicans have said any tax rate increases would be harmful to small businesses, but other revenue options, such as eliminating tax loopholes and deductions, could be on the table.

Schumer said limiting tax deductions isn’t enough to make a “balanced” deficit deal.

Lawmakers are working to avoid the "fiscal cliff" set to take place at the end of the year when the Bush tax rates expire and sequestration cuts take effect, unless lawmakers act.