House Democrats ready to play hardball with Obama tax cuts

House Democrats on Thursday voted to block a package of tax cuts and unemployment benefits negotiated by President Obama and congressional Republicans from coming to the floor, signaling to the president that the Democratically controlled House is unhappy with the deal he struck.

While reflective of the mood of House Democrats, the vote on the non-binding resolution is largely symbolic. It's still up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to decide whether to bring the $900 billion package to the floor.

Pelosi issued a statement suggesting she would heed the will of the caucus and, at the very least, postpone action on the bill in hopes of squeezing concessions out of the White House.

Vice President Joe Biden's visit late Wednesday to the House side of the Capitol apparently did little to calm Democratic anger over the size of the tax cut package or a provision that would reduce the size and scope of the estate tax.

Biden told House Democratic lawmakers that the deal can't be altered, but Democrats are insisting that the tax cuts should not be extended to high-income earners and that the estate tax should be altered to include estates worth less than $5 million.

“We will continue discussions with the president and our Democratic and Republican colleagues in the days ahead to improve the proposal before it comes to the House floor for a vote,” Pelosi said.

Beltway ConfidentialUS

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