"The problem with the Rule [which provided the blueprint for debate] was that it did not allow members who were opposed to it in broader ways than just the estate tax to have an opportunity to vote against [those issues]," Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who supports Obama's plan, told me in a brief interview. "You had an opportunity to amend the estate provision, but not [extensions for] the millionaire, billionaire side."
The likely vehicle for these bigger changes was introduced to the Rules Committee last night by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). It includes the estate tax, but would also swap out the payroll tax holiday with a renewal of the Making Work Pay tax credit, and provide a cost of living adjustment for seniors on Social Security, among other things.
These are positions most Democrats are already on the record voting for. So why grind the House to a halt to do it all over again? "This is the last opportunity we have," said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). "And yeah, we're on record voting on a whole bunch of things at a time when people weren't paying attention. People are paying attention now."
If progressives get a chance to take this one messaging vote, they'll drop their impromptu filibuster.
"That would change my vote," DeFazio said.
Democrats will meet this evening* to plot their way forward. Many, including Fattah and Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter predict it will all be resolved today.
Technical addendum: There's also a separate, technical hangup other members members have. As currently written, the rule partially links the vote on the amendment and on final passage of the tax bill. If the amendment fails, as expected, it will be followed immediately by a vote on the Obama plan. But if by some miracle the amendment passes, the entire package goes straight back to the Senate. In that unlikely event, some members are worried that their vote on the amendment will be construed as a vote on the underlying tax bill. So they want to see the amendment and the legislation delinked. Got it? Good.
Late update: Caucus meeting has been postponed.