House progressives just nearly brought down the Bush tax cuts bill over lingering anger at the compromise President Obama worked out with Senate Republicans. Democratic leaders had hoped that an amendment built into the package changing the estate tax provisions would sway enough liberals to vote to proceed to the bill and for the legislation on final passage. But the leaders were forced to yank the rule — which outlines the debate and procedure to pass the bill — off the floor when it became clear it was going to fail. Progressives are demanding a clean vote up or down on the original package — unamended — so they can register their opposition.
Overall, the nearly $900 billion bill extends all of the Bush tax cuts by two years, provides a fix for the Alternative Minimum tax, extends renewable energy tax credits passed in the stimulus and extends unemployment insurance to millions of Americans. It also ups the estate tax level from 55% of estates worth $1 million to 35% of estates worth $5 million or more. House Dems want to see that rate lowered to 45% on estates worth $3.5 million or more. If the amendment to lower the rate succeeds in the House, it will ping-pong the bill back to the Senate where the changes could bring it down.
Rep, Jim McGovern, the Massachusetts Democrat who is managing the bill on the floor, told reporters that the problem was “just a bump,” and leadership sources say they still expect final passage of the bill today after they add an amendment to the rule. Meanwhile, a caucus meeting has just been called for 3:45pm, so this could be a late night for the House.
Also, I have a TIME.com story out today about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and how she helped bring her caucus around from total outrage last week to, well, simmering resentment this week.