Dec. 8: Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talk after a Democratic Caucus meeting on Capitol Hill.AP
Dec. 8: Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., left, and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., confer on Capitol Hill after a Democratic caucus luncheon.AP
Dec. 7: President Obama defends his tax cuts deal with Republicans at a news conference at the White House.AP
WASHINGTON—The sweeping tax package negotiated by President Barack Obama and Republican lawmakers gained new momentum toward passage in the Senate, building pressure on balking House Democrats to accept the controversial deal.
The framework of the package seems likely to remain intact, but lawmakers and lobbyists were trying to attach favored provisions into what is likely to be one of the biggest bills to pass the lame duck Congress. Potential additions include a grant program for clean-energy projects that expires at the end of this year.
The scramble to get such provisions included was a sign of growing support for the deal. Senate leaders worked to finish drafting the details of the legislation and prepared for a floor debate as early as Friday, only days after Obama unveiled the framework for the tax package on Monday.
In the House, Democratic leaders continued to withhold support. Vice President Joe Biden visited Capitol Hill's most hostile quarter—the House Democratic Caucus—where senior members have strongly objected to provisions in the tax package benefiting upper income taxpayers.
But Biden bluntly told House members that the deal was done and unlikely to be significantly changed, according to participants in the meeting.
"The White House made a deal, and it's emboldened the Republicans,'' said Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.), an opponent of the agreement. "It's hard to roll back."
Some Democrats are hoping to make the bitter pill easier to swallow by securing other provisions they favor. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) and 20 other senators, nearly all Democrats, were pushing for the clean-energy grant program, which many Republicans oppose.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has floated a proposal to legalize Internet poker, but the idea is opposed by a leading architect of the tax deal, Sen. John Kyl (R., Ariz.). "It's not going to happen,'' Kyl said.