The House of Representatives has postponed deciding on an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.
While debating the rules under which they would debate the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, House Democrats ended debate, tabled the measure temporarily and plan to caucus this afternoon, presumably to work out how to proceed.
The Senate passed the bill yesterday. Democratic leaders, including President Obama, are urging House Democrats to get over their objections and pass the bill for Obama to sign into law.
But several Democratic Representatives have problems with extending tax cuts for the country's wealthiest citizens and extending the estate tax break, which is also in the bill.
The bill, for the most part, mirrors the deal President Obama struck last week with Republican leadership for extending the Bush-era tax cuts for all citizens and unemployment insurance for millions of out-of-work Americans.
The $900 billion bill extends the tax cuts for all income brackets for two years and sets the estate tax at 35 percent with a $5 million exemption.
The Democrats had originally planned to extend the tax breaks only for people making under $250,000 a year. But Senate Republicans threatened to use their filibuster power to block all legislation Democrats may attempt in this lame duck session, unless the tax break was extended for America's wealthiest citizens as well.
The bill provides a 13-month extension of unemployment insurance benefits wanted by Democrats, and an extension of the ethanol tax credit, which is supported by both sides.
The measure also includes extensions of the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college tuition, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, and a $120 billion payroll tax reduction for workers.
Democratic leaders expect the bill to pass, but how long that will take and if there will be any changes that will force the bill back to the Senate for approval are unanswered questions that are causing some Democrat lawmakers anxiety, since there are several other bills they would like to get to before the year ends.
I am absolutely convinced that this tax cut plan, while not perfect, will help grow our economy and create jobs in the private sector, President Obama said yesterday. It will help lift up middle-class families, who will no longer need to worry about a New Year's Day tax hike. It will offer emergency relief to help tide folks over until they find another job. And it includes tax cuts to make college more affordable; help parents provide for their children; and help businesses, large and small, expand and hire.
The House will likely take up the measure again tomorrow.