Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has enough votes to pass President Obama’s plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone’s first $250,000 in income, according to his office … if Republicans agree not to filibuster it.
The development positions Democrats and Obama to attack Senate Republicans for blocking extension of nearly all the Bush tax cuts, unless wealthy Americans get their tax cuts extended as well.
Reid’s complicated maneuvers on the Senate floor Wednesday night suggest he’s defied the GOP’s expectations and lined up at least 50 members of his caucus to pass Obama’s plan. Caught by surprise, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to block a parallel opportunity for a majority vote on extending all the Bush tax cuts.
It’s an important milestone for Senate Democrats, many of whose conservative members have been reluctant to vote for Obama’s plan, fearing dubious GOP attacks that anything less than a full extension of the Bush tax cuts amounts to a significant tax increase, particularly on small businesses.
The development unfolded between a series of obscure procedural tactics that spanned the day. McConnell offered Reid a similar vote Wednesday morning — an opportunity Reid declined. Republicans responded, taunting Reid for failing to marshall support for Obama’s plan.
By the end of the day, Reid had put a coalition together. Though the vote did not take place — and may not happen at all, it snuffs out the GOP’s potent argument that even Senate Democrats don’t support his plan.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.