House to Vote on Competing Tax-Cut Proposals Next Week

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said he will allow a vote next week on Democrats’ plan to extend most George W. Bush-era income tax cuts while ending them for top earners.

Boehner told reporters today he will give Democrats a chance to vote on their tax plan as the Republican-led House also considers a Republican proposal to extend the tax cuts for all income levels.

“We’ll give the Democrats an opportunity to vote for the president’s small business tax hikes,” Boehner told reporters today. “We’ll see what they’ll offer.”

He didn’t specify in what form the Democrats will be able to bring up their competing tax proposal. “It’s our belief that they ought to be able to have a vote,” the speaker said.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 51-48 yesterday, mostly along party lines, on a plan endorsed by President Barack Obama providing a one-year extension of the tax cuts for individual income up to $200,000 and married couples earning as much as $250,000 a year.

The House will vote next week on Republicans’ legislation to extend the tax cuts for all income levels for one year, and on a measure that would set up a process for overhauling the tax code in 2013. The Senate yesterday rejected a tax-cut extension for all levels of income.

Strategic Advantage

Boehner’s decision to allow a vote on a Democratic plan may diffuse what Democrats say is a strategic advantage they gained by passing their plan in the Senate.

“We are one vote away from passing this legislation,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said today in calling on Boehner to schedule a vote on the Senate plan.

Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat, told reporters that a House vote could provide individuals and businesses with the certainty on tax law they’ve been seeking.

“There will be some certainty if Speaker Boehner will call this bill on the floor of the House because it will pass,” Durbin said. “It will pass because I believe there are enough Republicans who believe that giving middle-income families across America a break, making sure that they don’t see their taxes go up, is good for America.”

‘Right Thing’

Obama today urged the House “to do the right thing” and pass the Senate’s plan.

“Right now we’re seeing some of the weaknesses in Europe and it is a perfect time for us to focus on what are steps we can take now, not later, not a year from now but right now, to strengthen the middle class,” Obama said before a meeting with his Cabinet at the White House.

Two Senate Republicans, Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Susan Collins of Maine, voted yesterday against the Republican measure to extend all of the tax cuts, and not all House Republicans are committed to supporting the proposal in that chamber.

“I don’t know that there’s a consensus among House Republicans to extend them for a year,” Representative Joe Walsh, an Illinois Republican, said today at a Bloomberg Government breakfast.

Walsh added that he and other Republican lawmakers are “pretty tired” of yearlong extensions of tax policy.

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