House Democrats have decided to skip a vote on extending Bush-era tax cuts, announcing Wednesday that they will not count heads until Congress returns for a lame duck session beginning Nov. 15.
The decision raises the impending tax increase to the fore ahead of the Nov. 2 midterm election, a debate that Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen told Fox News that his party is ready to have.
"We will take it to the election," Van Hollen, D-Md., said.
The House on Wednesday barely reached approval to adjourn. The 210-209 vote sets up a departure as early as Wednesday afternoon after lawmakers finish business still at hand, including a vote on health benefits for sickened Sept. 11 first responders.
The Senate punted two weeks ago on whether to hold a vote on extending nearly 10-year-old tax brackets for another year or longer. Democrats say they want to extend the current rates for couples making under $250,000 but hike it from 35 percent to 39.6 percent for couples making more than $250,000. The individual rate threshold is $200,000.
"Given the fact that Senate Republicans are going to hold tax relief hostage, we'll have to get this done later this year," Van Hollen said.
Republicans say the decision to forego a vote before the election amounts to a tax increase.
"A vote to adjourn this Congress without an up-or-down vote to stop all the tax hikes is a vote to raise taxes and destroy more jobs," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wednesday. "American families and small businesses deserve better. ... If Democratic leaders leave town without stopping all of the tax hikes, they are turning their backs on the American people."