Democrats delay tax vote until after November polls
Senate Democrats ruled out any vote on extending controversial tax cuts until after the November 2 legislative elections, drawing fire from Republicans who want to keep the cuts.
Congress for the past few days has been hotly debating what to do with tax cuts passed by former president George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003 that are set to expire this year, unless renewed.
President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies are proposing to extend the cuts for two years, but not for households earning over 250,000 dollars a year, arguing that America cannot afford handouts to top earners.
Republicans argue that neither rich nor poor deserve to see their taxes go up.
"Democrats believe we must permanently extend tax cuts for the middle class before they expire at the end of the year, and we will," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman Jim Manley said Thursday in a statement.
He said Republicans were not cooperating on the issue but "would rather give tax giveaways to millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas.
"We will come back in November and stay in session as long as it takes to get this done," he vowed.
Republicans blame the Democrats for the tax vote delay.
"We hope Democrats -- who have yet to actually introduce tax legislation to prevent tax hikes -- won't hold it hostage to their burning desire to raise taxes on small businesses and families in the middle of a recession," said Minority Leader Mitch McConnel's spokesman Don Stewart.
Democratic lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives are divided on the issue of extending tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Republicans are attempting to hold the middle class tax cuts hostage to a full extension of breaks, including for the wealthy.
"I think the people do know that the Republicans stand for tax cuts for the rich," she said.
President Barack Obama has accused Republicans of blocking the vote on extending tax cuts just to ensure the richest Americans also get a handout he said the country could not afford.
Officials say extending the cuts to the top earners would cost 700 billion dollars over 10 years.