Senate Democrats give up push for pre-election tax cut vote

From Dana Bash and Brianna Keilar, CNN Congressional Correspondents

Washington (CNN) — Senate Democrats will not vote on extending Bush-era tax cuts for families making less than $250,000 a year before the upcoming congressional elections, the spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed Thursday.

“We will come back in November [after the elections] and stay in session as long as it takes to get this done,” said a statement from Reid’s spokesman, Jim Manley.

The announcement followed reports by CNN, citing senior Democratic sources, that Senate Democrats would hold off for now on forcing a vote on the measure pushed by President Obama.

“The reality is, we will not pass what needs to be passed to change this either in the Senate or the House before the election,” said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate.

Obama and other Democratic leaders have repeatedly expressed their desire to extend the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts — currently slated to expire at the end of the year — only for families earning less than $250,000 and individuals earning less than $200,000.

Republicans have stood firm on supporting extensions of the tax breaks for all taxpayers, including the wealthiest Americans.

Obama has argued that the nation can’t afford the extra $700 billion tab to extend tax breaks for those in the top income bracket. Republicans — backed by 31 moderate to conservative House Democrats, as well as several Democratic senators — have argued that a failure to extend the lower rates for everyone could damage the economic recovery.

Obama wanted a vote on his proposed extension of some of the tax cuts before lawmakers returned to the campaign trail for the November 2 elections, in part to reinforce Democratic support for pocketbook issues.

Democratic strategists have been divided over whether it’s politically beneficial to push for a vote on the tax cuts now, citing their candidates from conservative states in tough re-election battles who would have to defend the resulting increase in the tax rate on wealthy Americans to previous levels.

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