The lower chamber passed the bill 234-188, sending it to the Senate where Republicans have predicted it is dead on arrival. The bill passes the House, it has no chance in the Senate, where Democrats need Republican support to pass a tax bill.
Before the bill headed for a vote, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) foreshadowed that the bill may just be a foundation for a further compromise, a hint that the upper bracket tax rates are likely to be extended as well.
“It will be this bill on which they will ultimately reach whatever compromise is available in the United States Senate …the compromise we all know is ultimately going to be necessary,” Hoyer said on the floor.
Three Republicans that voted for the bill: Reps. Ron Paul (Texas), John Duncan (Tenn.) and Walter Jones (N.C.). Twenty Democrats joined the majority of Republicans and voted against the measure, illustrating the divide still prevalent in the party
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cast a rare vote for the bill, cementing this as a fundamental principal of the Democratic party.
Republicans positioned the vote as a cheap political trick that undermines serious negotiations with the White House. Democrats, on the other hand, said the GOP was holding the middle class hostage for the richest Americans. Earlier in the day, House Minority Leader John Boehner, the Ohio Republican who will be speaker in the next Congress, called the vote “chicken crap.”
The White House applauded the move, saying extending these rates is “the most important thing we can do for our economy right now.”
“But, because Republicans have made it clear that they won’t pass a middle class extension without also extending tax cuts for the wealthy, the President has asked Director Lew and Secretary Geithner to work with Congress to find a way forward,” the White House said in a statement. “Those discussions started just yesterday and are continuing this afternoon. The talks are ongoing and productive, but any reports that we are near a deal in the tax cuts negotiations are inaccurate and premature.”
Several defeated Democrats voted against the measure, perhaps foreshadowing a political future. Among them are Reps. Ron Klein (Fla.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.), Mike McMahon (N.Y.), Walt Minnick (Iowa) and Gene Taylor (Miss.). Washington State Democratic Rep. Brian Baird and Rep. Artur Davis (Ala.), both retiring, voted against the measure. Democrats remaining in Congress that voted for the bill include Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Lloyd Doggett (Texas), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Gwen Moore (Wisc.), Jerry Moran (Va.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Bobby Scott (Va.), Mike Thompson (Calif.) and Peter Visclosky (Ind.).
Twelve members didn’t vote, including two lawmakers that just won statewide races: incoming Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and incoming Florida Agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam.
The move also takes care of a whole slew of tax provisions, including enhancements to a child tax credit, the alternative minimum tax, capital gains and dividends taxes, earned income tax credit rules, and education tax incentives.