Top Democrats Differ on Timing of Bush Tax Cuts

Pelosi, Axelrod, and Durbin disagreed Sunday on whether a quick tax-break vote was likely.


BY James Gordon Meek

Top GOP and Democratic officials sparred Sunday over whether to hold a tax-cut vote before November's midterm elections.

"The Congress has an opportunity this week to end some of the uncertainty by allowing the American people to know what the tax rates are going to be at the end of the year," House Minority leader John Boehner said on "Fox News Sunday."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had hinted last week that Democrats might vote on extending tax cuts for both the middle class and the wealthiest Americans before the election.

But three top Dems disagreed Sunday on whether a quick tax-break vote was likely.

"We are absolutely gonna get this done before the end of the year," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told NBC. "We may well take it up before the midterms."

Yet Democratic vote counters in the House and Senate said it's unlikely to happen before November.

"I doubt that we will" vote before the election, House Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on "Fox News Sunday."

President Obama's political adviser David Axelrod has accused GOP senators of holding middle-class tax cuts hostage to extend tax breaks for those earning more than $250,000 a year.

"One way or the other, we're going to get it done," Axelrod told ABC's "This Week."

The GOP will "have to explain to their constituents why they're holding up tax cuts for the middle class," Axelrod said.

Senate Democrats said they don't have the votes.

"What it gets down to is we can count. And we know we don't have 60 votes for our tax position," Assistant Senate Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on CNN's "State of the Union." "We want to basically say after the election . . . by the end of the year, we'll take up all of these tax issues."