Democrats had to suddenly pull from the floor a package of tax cuts and jobless benefits Thursday when they determined there remained too much opposition from their liberal wing, despite efforts to allow the progressives to vote for changes to the deal.
The House was still expected to vote Thursday on the $858 billion measure, which would extend the Bush-era tax breaks to every income level for another two years and provide 13 months of additional jobless benefits.
The delay was caused by liberal Democrats who are vehemently opposed to the wealthiest taxpayers receiving a tax break extension and particularly angry over a provision in the bill that would lower the estate tax from 45 percent to 35 percent and raise the threshold for those who would be subjected to the tax.
The House debated the legislation for an hour early Thursday. Most Democrats slammed the deal while Republicans largely defended it, with a few notable exceptions, including Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who is opposed to any estate tax and said the bill cost too much.
"The American people have spoken on Nov. 2 and the American people did not vote for more deficits, more stimulus or more uncertainty in the tax code, but that is just what this lame duck congress is about to get them," Pence said.
Democrats need the backing of their full caucus in order to pass the "rule" needed to proceed to debate on the bill since Republicans typically vote against this kind of resolution.
Democrats were meeting Thursday to find a way to move forward, appeasing angry liberals but at the same time preserves the bill as it is.
The Senate passed the package earlier this week and Senate Republicans said the bill must remain unchanged to maintain their support.