Domestic Taxes

Reid blasts Republicans as tax extenders bill sinks in the Senate

An increasingly frustrated Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday said he would make another effort to move the bill, but made it clear he lacks the 60 votes necessary to win a procedual motion.

Reid also blasted Republicans for blocking the legislation and said he had concluded the GOP doesn’t want a deal.

“Somewhere along the line, throughout these charades, this job creating, tax cutting, loophole closing bill has become a political football and that is really too bad,” Reid said in comments on the Senate floor.

“The debate is focused on winning and losing and not on doing what’s right, and that’s really too bad.”

The next vote on the extenders bill could take place today or on Friday.

The failure by Democratic senators to pass an extender package could be a huge political blow for the party. The package includes several popular tax breaks, aid to states and an extension of unemployment relief. It also delays a cut in Medicare payments to doctors that enables these physicians to keep treating Medicare patients.

The failure would also illustrate the extent to which fears about the deficit are now dominating the legislative process.

Republicans have objected to the tax extenders bill because the package would add to the deficit since not all of its spending
provisions are offset with other spending cuts or tax increases. Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) have also raised objections.

During the long recession, Congress repeatedly approved legislation that extended unemployment benefits as “emergency spending” that did not have to be offset. Worries about the record public debt now seem to have overcome the desire in Congress to spur along the economy and help the unemployed.

Two earlier versions of the tax bill have failed to win 60 votes, and the next vote will be on a third iteration of the legislation. In this version of the bill, only the unemployment insurance extension is not offset. Democrats hope Republicans will approve the bill because they will not want to vote against extending unemployment benefits.

Reid previously has made other changes to the legislation to try to accomodate Republicans, but it has not been enough to overcome objections.

“We have changes, we’ve moved — ‘you like this, we’ll give you this’,” Reid said about negotiating the bill with Republicans. 

The Senate has been debating the bill for over 8 weeks since March, Reid said.

This story was posted at 9:44 a.m. and updated at 10:23 a.m.

Tags Harry Reid

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