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GOP leaders hint at compromise on tax cuts, jobless benefits

Normally, jobless benefits run out after 26 weeks. They now are running to 99 weeks for some because of previous congressional extensions.

Any deal cut between the White House and the GOP would have to be ratified by Democrats in Congress who are growing increasingly anxious about the prospect of voting to extend tax cuts for the rich along with breaks for the middle class.

Many in the House are particularly agitated by the ongoing negotiations and say they are not inclined to rubber-stamp a deal that does not win significant Republican concessions to extend unemployment insurance as well as a host of tax cuts that were created in the 2009 stimulus package and are set to expire.

On Saturday evening, House Democratic leaders gathered at Vice President Biden's home to vent their frustrations to him and to White House Chief of Staff Pete Rouse, according to senior Democratic aides.

The two-hour meeting also included Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House budget director Jacob Lew, who are guiding bicameral talks about the tax cuts between the two parties. As of Sunday evening, no additional meetings of that group had been scheduled.

The House last week easily approved President Obama's preferred option - preserving the cuts only on income up to $250,000 a year. The Saturday- night meeting came hours after the Senate was unable to do the same. House Democrats are scheduled to confer with their rank and file Tuesday evening.

browndm@washpost.com montgomeryl@washpost.com


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