Hoyer: The House will pass a bill to extend Bush-era tax rates

Chris Moody Contributor
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A proposal to extend the Bush-era tax rates for two years will pass in the House despite unease among Democrats, House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer said Monday.

“I think we will pass a bill,” Hoyer said. “As opposed to simply not passing anything.”

The Senate today will begin the process with a test vote on President Obama’s proposed deal, which includes an extension of all the income tax rates, a 13-month continuation of federal unemployment benefits and an estate tax rate of 35 percent for assets beyond $5 million.

Hoyer said he will wait to see what comes out of the Senate before speaking definitively about his chamber’s next move, but voiced confidence that the House would vote on a bill before the end of the year.

“I think we’ll have a vote on the Senate bill,” Hoyer said. “With possible changes.”

Those changes will most likely involve amendments to the estate tax measure in the plan, which House Democrats blasted over the past few weeks. The House last year passed a bill that would establish a 45 percent estate tax for households worth more than $3.5 million.

As for timing, Hoyer said he was “hopeful” Congress could wrap up the process by the end of the week, but did not rule out the option of returning to work before the new year. He said he expects the Senate to pass their version of the bill within the next few days.

Although some in the Democratic caucus have said they would prefer to see all of the tax rates expire over a compromise with Republicans, Hoyer made it clear that such a move would not be an option.

“I believe that increasing the tax load on working Americans at this point in time on January 1, would not be helpful to continue to grow the economy. As a result, we don’t want to see that happen,” he said. “In order not to see that happen, you need to get a bill through Congress and signed by the president. We’re working on that. The legislative process is a process of give and take. And I think that’s going to occur.”

“A number of us would like to change it,” he said of the president’s plan. “But we’ll have to see where the votes lie.”

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