Lacking the votes to overcome a key procedural hurdle facing the tax cut bill, Dems have pulled the Rule laying the groundwork for debate off the House floor.
The move was a result of the defection of a number of House progressives who were upset with the terms of the debate, and with the tax cut bill itself.
Because it’s a procedural vote that reflects virtually no input from the minority, Republicans opposed the rule, meaning Democrats had to put together a majority among their own members, a majority of whom appose the underlying legislation, and want more opportunities to amend it.
A Dem leadership aide tells me this is likely a temporary setback.
“We are still whipping the rule to ensure that it passes,” the aide says. “Liberals are not happy with the tax bill in general. The rule is typically where a lot of members will lodge their protest.”
“We always knew that the rule vote would be tough … we just need more time,” the aide added.
If Dems can’t be corralled, leaders will have to come to terms with rank and file members on a new rule that wins majority support.
Late Update: Speaker Pelosi is now conferring with her caucus on language for a new rule that could pass. Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) tells us that she expects this dispute to be resolved and the vote on the tax cut plan to still be held today, although it may be tonight rather than this afternoon, as originally scheduled. The situation, however, remains fluid.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.