WASHINGTON -- No sooner had Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle engineered the defeat of one Republican tax cut measure than another one showed up on his doorstep.
He sounded less than ecstatic about his new guest, a bill to make tax relief for married couples permanent. The House sent the bill to the Senate on Thursday with a 271-142 vote.
"With all the work we've got to do, I think it would be difficult to anticipate another tax debate along the lines of what the House may be proposing," the South Dakota Democrat told reporters Thursday.
"We've all been very supportive of marriage penalty relief in the past and have voted on it, it seems like, hundreds of times. But we'll see what happens.
"At this point my sense is that we've been there, done that," he said.
How they voted
How the Minnesota delegation voted in the 271-142 roll call Thursday by which the House granted permanent tax relief to married couples.
X denotes those not voting.
Democrats -- Luther, Y; McCollum, N; Oberstar, N; Peterson, X; Sabo, N.
Republicans -- Gutknecht, Y; Kennedy, Y; Ramstad, Y.
For their part, Republicans intend to keep doing that -- passing legislation to make various elements of last year's huge tax cut permanent.
And prodding Democrats to vote on them, sometimes uncomfortably, in the run-up to the fall elections.
"The Senate needs to take up this bill, pass it and send it to the president to sign," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.
Polling shows that Republicans enjoy a large lead over Democrats on the issue of taxes -- by 35 percentage points in one recent GOP poll. Democrats in difficult races are particularly careful to avoid giving their opponents fresh grounds to criticize them on the issue.
Last week, 41 House Democrats crossed party lines to support permanent repeal of the estate tax -- the bill that died in the Senate on Wednesday.
Sixty members of the Democratic rank-and-file voted Thursday for the House bill to make tax relief permanent for married couples, although few if any took the opportunity to speak in favor of it on the House floor.
Several Democratic aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, said party officials made no attempt to prevent defections on the bill relating to married couples, an acknowledgment of the political appeal of the bill.
On the other hand, several Democrats complained vociferously during the House debate that the bill would drain the Social Security trust funds, even though the bill actually would only increase the federal debt.
Democrats also said the cuts would use funds that would be better spent on prescription drugs for Medicare recipients, education and other programs.
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