Senate vote on tax-cut extensions may come by the weekend
The Senate may vote on an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts by this weekend, according to top Senate Democrats and Republicans.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Wednesday afternoon that the Senate will be able to hold a cloture vote on the economic package "fairly quickly," possibly within "the next day or two."
The exact timing of the vote, however, is up in the air due to the Senate's consideration of the defense authorization bill that includes the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law. If enough moderate Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), agree to move forward on debate on the defense bill, then that could bump a vote on the tax-cut extension at least a few days down the line.
Reid made the comments following a meeting in which Senate Democrats continued to work toward a resolution on the tax-cut issue. Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew and Treasury Department counsel Gene Sperling also attended the meeting.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) also told reporters that the Senate could take up the tax-cuts bill "as early as tomorrow," adding that senators are considering the legislative language this afternoon.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that a vote could come Thursday, although "this conversation with representatives of the administration made some suggestions for things that people would like to see changed."
"I think the Democratic Senate caucus firmly feels that some changes need to be made, and we're working those out now with the administration," he added.
There were signs after Senate Democrats' meeting that some, but not all, members were warming to the tax-cut deal.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) called the tone of Wednesday's meeting "a little less emotional" than Tuesday's but cautioned that there's "still a lot of concern" among Senate Democrats, particularly on the issue of the renewable energy tax credit.
Still, Lieberman was optimistic about the chances that a bill will pass.
"I repeat, the votes are there; enough votes are there to pass this," he said, adding that the package will come up for a vote "maybe by the weekend."
Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who has stated that he is opposed to the package, remained skeptical about the deal.
"I don't think any of these economists really know what's going on," Harkin said. "In that kind of a situation, the best thing to do, the best advice, the best guidance is: do what's fair, do what's just, and do what kind of keeps our society in balance. ... I think that there's still a lot of concern among Democrats about, a) the process and b) the final result."
Asked about the possibility of a weekend vote, Durbin replied: "I would rather be in this weekend than the next one or the one after that."
The Senate was also in session last Saturday for two test votes on the tax-cut extensions.
| December 8, 2010; 4:40 PM ET
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