The Senate rejected the Republican proposal for extending the Bush-era tax rates in a straight up-or-down vote Wednesday.
GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure MORE (R-Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.) joined Democrats in voting against the GOP plan, which would have extended the Bush-era tax rates and other current tax policies. Brown faces a difficult reelection battle this fall.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidVoters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama Mellman: Are independents really so independent? MORE (Nev.) and Democrats had only one defection — Sen. Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorBottom line Everybody wants Joe Manchin Cotton glides to reelection in Arkansas MORE (Ark.). Like Brown, Pryor faces a tough reelection bid.
Vice President Biden made a rare appearance as the Senate's presiding officer in case his tie-breaking vote was needed to help Democrats pass their own tax plan in a subsequent vote. The Democratic plan would extend only the Bush-era rates on families with income up to $250,000.
Democrats said the Republican plan, S. 3413, just protected the wealthiest Americans, while Republicans argued the Democratic plan represented a tax hike on some households.
“The Senate Democrat plan, which raises taxes on a million small-business owners at a moment when we’re counting on them to create jobs, raises taxes on thousands of family farmers and small-business owners grieving the loss of a loved one, leaves a middle-class tax hike in place, and reforms nothing,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo On The Money — Biden stresses calm amid omicron fears MORE (R-Ky.) said Wednesday.
Despite Republican objections, the Democrats’ S. 3412 is expected to pass by a narrow margin, but will carry little weight since tax bills have to originate in the House and House Republicans are unlikely to accept the Democrats’ bill.“Republicans are interested in protecting millionaires and billionaires from paying one penny more,” Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOn The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Arbery case, Biden spending bill each test views of justice MORE (D-Wash.) said Tuesday. “Disagreement on tax cuts for the rich should not stop tax cuts for the middle class … but Republicans care about extending those tax cuts for the rich above all else.”
The Democrats’ bill also includes extensions of the earned-income tax credit, child tax credit and opportunity tax credit for college tuition.
McConnell on Wednesday morning agreed to holding the two up-or-down votes on the competing tax proposals. He said the arrangement would force vulnerable Democratic senators to vote on the merits of each plan and not hide behind procedural votes.
“By setting these votes at the 50-vote threshold, nobody on the other side can hide behind a procedural vote while leaving their views on the actual bill itself a mystery, a simple mystery to the people who sent them here,” McConnell said Wednesday morning.
The tax votes are only the first salvo in an election year debate about how to avoid the impending fiscal cliff of tax increases and automatic spending cuts agreed to in last year’s debt-ceiling deal.