Some Think Reid Bowing To Pressure From Dem Candidates

How did Senate leadership go from all-systems-go on extending tax cuts for the middle class to let’s wait for the lame duck? Some aides think it has everything to do with the elections.

A Senate Democratic aide told TPM that while leadership has opted to scrap plans for a tax cuts vote before the election, the caucus isn’t so clearly against holding a vote now.

The aide said it’s closely divided among the Democrats who want to punt until November and those who want to take a vote now to draw a distinction between their party and the Republicans in clear terms.Another Senate aide said leadership and Majority Leader Harry Reid have weighted the decision toward the preference of senators in tough reelection battles.

One such incumbent, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has said she is “ready and eager” to extend the middle class tax cuts. Her aides did not answer if she would prefer to wait until after the election.

Another Democrat fighting to be reelected, Sen. Patty Murray (WA), complained on the Senate floor this afternoon about the potential of a punt. “We should not go home without extending these tax cuts,” Murray said.

As we noted earlier, Sen. Russ Feingold wants a vote now, his staff said.

Follow our coverage of this issue in full here.

Late Update: A Murray spokesman called us to clarify that her floor speech today actually was about a very separate issue, the tax extenders bill. TPM asked repeatedly if Murray wants a vote before the election, but the spokesman wouldn’t answer.

“She’s committed to ensuring a vote before the end of year,” the Murray aide said.

Later Update: Murray’s aide called back after we published the update above with an answer. “She would welcome a vote before the election,” the aide said. Her position is to extend the cuts for the middle class.