Sen. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) pledged Thursday that the Senate will not vote on House Speaker John A. Boehner's so-called "Plan B" even if Boehner can muster the Republican votes necessary to send the measure to the Senate late Thursday.
Reid said the proposal -- which would allow taxes to rise only for those making more than a million dollars a year -- does not address the nation's deficit and would provide a tax break for the nation's ultra-wealthy while allowing tax provisions that specifically benefit the middle class to lapse. He said Boehner's only option to avoid the cliff is to craft a deal with President Obama that can earn votes from both parties.
"Let me be absolutely clear," Reid said."[Boehner's proposal] is not going to pass the Senate."
Some House Republicans have predicted that if they send their tax bill to the Senate, public pressure to avoid the cliff would force the Senate to pick it up and move the legislative process forward.
But Reid and other Senate Democratic leaders said the current proposal is a "political stunt" that has wasted time as Boehner scrounges for votes among his most conservative members, most of whom oppose any tax increase. They said Boehner's only path forward now is to resume discussions with the White House over a broad deficit reduction package that could win bipartisan support -- talks that have been virtually halted as Boehner has worked to get support for his GOP-only idea.
"What we have is intense negotiations by Speaker Boehner with -- not the president, with his own Republicans," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), the Senate's second-in-command. "It’s time for the Speaker to wake up to the simple reality that to deal with this national crisis we have to deal with it on a bipartisan basis."