Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants his Democratic counterpart Harry Reid to show his cards.
For days, Reid’s been signaling that he has at least 50 votes to pass legislation to extend the Bush tax cuts up to income of $250,000 — a close facsimile of the tax plan at the heart of President Obama’s re-election campaign. All along, Republicans have been unwilling to drop their filibuster and allow the plan to come to the Senate floor for a majority vote.
Until Wednesday morning.
“Republicans will allow a simple majority vote on the two proposals,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “By setting these votes at a 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 to the people who sent them here.”
The Senate was scheduled to hold a test vote on the legislation Wednesday afternoon. Republicans were poised to block debate on the plan altogether and touch off a flood of Democratic attacks against the GOP for taking middle-income tax cuts hostage.
That could still happen, but would require Reid to essentially accede that he doesn’t have enough votes to pass the bill as it is.
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.