As the clock quickly ticks down to Election Day and nervous Democrats look to get the heck out of Washington and head home to campaign, it is looking increasingly likely that Senate Democrats will leave the looming question of what to do with the expiring Bush tax cuts unanswered, this according to three senior Senate Democratic leadership aides.
"It's not hard to look at that calendar and see we have almost no time left. And the caucus is not coming together on this one, so it's looking pretty likely that we just wait," one of the aides said, adding, "Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of people who want to just have a vote on middle class tax cuts only, but there are certainly some who don't want the vote at all."
Still another aide ticked down the list of "things to do" as a way of illustrating the time crunch and the dwindling chances for tax cuts. "It's fair to note the Disclose Act, the Durbin Offshore Jobs deal, the need for a (Continuing Resolution) and this Isakson (disapproval resolution on railroad union organizing) that they have to do, and it's fair to say there is less time and fewer and fewer opportunities for a vote."
Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would not concede the Senate would punt the tax issue to a lame duck session, saying only, "We are holding a caucus meeting tomorrow where we plan to continue to discuss a path forward."
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Tuesday that senators would "leave here next week if we can."
Senate Republicans agree that action is not likely on the tax cuts.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he does not expect a vote, a sentiment echoed by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who told Fox, "There's just not enough time. I have members on both sides of the aisle in the House telling me they expect to leave Tuesday."
If the House does, in fact, adjourn in just four legislative days, it is virtually impossible to enact changes to the Bush tax cuts by then.