Washington dramas

The biggest battles on Capitol Hill sometimes aren’t between Democrats and Republicans, but rather between the House and Senate. On Tuesday, the Senate passed (and the White House indicated that if it passed the House as is it would be signed) a tax extender package.  This compromise package was approved 93-2 and included a whole slew of provisions from renewable energy tax credit extensions, to plug in hybrid consumer tax credits, to provisions that dealt with the Alternative Minimum Tax and disaster relief — in short, a very delicate balancing act. 

So delicate, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had the following to say when the bill was sent back to the House:

“I hope the House accepts what we do. I do my very best to get along with the House, the Democrats and Republicans.  But everyone should understand that we have had a very difficult time getting to the point where we are in passing this final version of this bill.  If the House doesn’t pass this, the full responsibility of this not passing is theirs, not ours.”

Reid also said:

“I say to my friends on the other side of the Capitol, the House, don’t send us back something else. We can’t get it passed. If they try to mess with our package, it will come back here, it will die, and we will have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Pretty strong words, provoking the following statement from House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO):

“It’s rare that I agree with the Senate Majority Leader, but when it comes to changing this critical tax relief bill, I agree with him one-hundred percent.  To those in the House that wish to either split this bill up or add unrelated provisions to it, they must understand that they are imperiling this vital piece of legislation.  The House must take up and pass the Senate bill as is.”

Well, Washington being what it is, the final plan on the table in the House today differs pretty substantively from the Senate package and just got a White House veto threat because it separates the energy provisions (which the House altered as well) from the overall compromise package:

“The Administration is disappointed that the House has decoupled this legislation from AMT relief [...]By doing so, the House invites certain delay of this important piece of legislation being signed into law [...] The Administration urges the House to adopt the Senate Amendments to H.R. 6049 passed by the Senate on September 23, 2008, in their entirety. If H.R. 7060 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.

Stay tuned.

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