House resumes debate on tax-cut bill after liberal uprising
Updated: 7:52 p.m.
Hours after liberal Democrats unexpectedly forced the measure off the floor, the House on Thursday night resumed debate on the tax-cut deal negotiated between President Obama and congressional Republicans, setting the stage for a final vote within hours.
The House agreed to open debate on the measure, which the Senate overwhelmingly passedWednesday, by a 214 to 201 vote.
Earlier Thursday, many liberal Democrats had been planning to vote for an amendment offered by Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) that would have made changes to the tax-cut package's estate tax provision, which liberals believed were overly generous to the wealthy.
But, according to several members, liberal Democrats revolted in a closed-door caucus meeting Thursday morning after it became clear that a vote in support of the Pomeroy amendment would also mean a vote to support the underlying bill.
Speaking with reporters after a House Democratic leadership meeting Thursday night, Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) said that problem had been fixed under the debate rules approved by the House. Andrews also noted that the Pomeroy amendment would still be the only one considered, despite some Democrats' recommendations that other amendments be added.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) emphasized Democratic leaders' view that time is of the essence. "There's broad agreement that there needs to be a resolution sooner rather than later," Israel said.
Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who had appealed to Democratic leaders at Thursday night's meeting to consider a number of other additions to the Pomeroy amendment, said that they would agree to whatever the leadership decided.
"We just spoke with the speaker and the leadership team, and we basically made our case," Weiner said. "And it's going to be up to them what they decide to do, and we're going to support them whatever they decide."
After the original vote fell apart earlier Thursday, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) explained the reservations that some liberals had to the plan as it originally stood.
"Let's say you vote for the amendment and you concur with that exception; you're swallowing everything else," Grijalva said. "You're kind of in a trap. You have to vote 'no' on it, and then so you can preserve your ability to vote 'no' on the final passage. So that's where the dilemma has been."
Grijalva said that he didn't know why the rules for debate were originally written that way. "It's a very stressful vote for everybody in the caucus, and this just added a little additional drama because we felt that we were getting set up," he said.
Ultimately, the thinking among many liberal Democrats was that "if we're going to lose, let's lose with a strong message," Grijalva added.
| December 16, 2010; 6:53 PM ET
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