Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb, made clear last week that he supports extending all of the Bush tax cuts, particularly in a bad economy, but on Monday he went further. Nelson told reporters he would be willing to join Republicans in crafting a bipartisan bill that does just that and even left open the possibility of supporting a GOP-led filibuster of any measure that stops short of a full extension.
Nelson said he does not expect to have to filibuster anything, however, as he does not expect his leadership to bring foward a bill that leaves out the well-to-do.
Meanwhile, Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman, who has said he supports extending all of the tax cuts, as well, told reporters he is not prepared to join Republicans in opposing a bill that only extends tax cuts for the middle class.
"To me there's very broad agreement on middle class tax cuts. We ought to get it done, and then we can argue about tax cuts for higher income people," the Connecticut senator said.
Several other Democrats in the chamber have come out publicly in opposition to letting tax cuts for the wealthy expire, and a number of others are known to be in that camp, as well.
Still, Sen. Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, is, according to staff, planning to bring a partial extension forward, though he will face his caucus Tuesday for a fuller discussion of where this debate should go.
One senior Senate Democratic leadership aide told Fox that positions will be sought in the weekly lunch meeting and added that it is possible a compromise could be offered to GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, whereby Republicans would first get a vote on extending all of the tax cuts (with a 60-vote threshold requirement), and if that fails, Democrats would get a vote on a partial extension.
Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in the meantime, came out swinging, releasing a statement saying, "At a time when this nation has a $13 trillion national debt and a widening gap between the very rich and everyone else, the dumbest thing we could possibly do is to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to some of the wealthiest people in America."