Washington – Two Senate procedural votes on Democratic measures to extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts for people who are not super wealthy failed on Saturday, preventing the measures from moving forward.
The votes sought to extend the Bush tax cuts for families making under $250,000 and $1 million, respectively.
Both votes garnered the support of 53 senators, but the Democrats needed 60 votes to end debate.
“I am very disappointed that the Senate did not pass legislation that had already passed the House of Representatives to make middle class tax cuts permanent,” President Barack Obama said afterward.
“I continue to believe that it makes no sense to hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage to permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans,” he said, “especially when those high income tax cuts would cost an additional $700 billion that we don’t have and would add to our deficit.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he is still hopeful about reaching a deal on tax cuts.
“Discussions continue,” McConnell said at a news conference. “I am hopeful we will be able to resolve this. I am relatively confident that the end of this process will lead us to a very sensible decision not to raise taxes on anybody during a recession.”
Despite the realization that neither would get the 60 votes to succeed, many Democrats said before the vote they wanted to get on-the-record in support of extending the lower rates to lower earners. They also want to contrast their ideas with Republican proposals to extend tax cuts for everyone, even those who are very wealthy.
“I think we want to lay it out there,” Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said on Friday. “Who’s for which approach on this? That’s why we’re doing it.”
“There are no signs that millionaires are suffering in this economy. It’s everybody below that,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California. “You have to stand up for what you believe and you have to vote on what you believe.”
Both votes were on Democratic amendments and included extensions of other expiring tax programs as well as the extension of benefits for the long-time unemployed.
A Republican leadership aide dismissed the Democratic effort as “political show-votes.”