Grover Norquist, the Americans for Tax Reform president and anti-tax activist who has become a key figure in the ongoing negotiations on the fiscal cliff, took to Twitter as the House was voting Tuesday night to give his blessing to the deal:
The Bush tax cuts lapsed at midnight last night. Every R voting for Senate bill is cutting taxes and keeping his/her pledge.— Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) January 2, 2013
Norquist, of course, is the architect of the anti-tax pledge signed by the vast majority of congressional Republicans, and his statement Tuesday night could give political cover to the 85 members of the House GOP conference who voted "yes" on the deal.
But potentially more significant is the implication of his statement for the 151 Republicans who voted against the fiscal cliff compromise. Can those votes now be considered ballots cast against cutting taxes?
In a tweet earlier Tuesday, Norquist cast the debate as one over permanent versus temporary tax cuts:
Congress about to make permanent most of the temporary tax cuts that Democrats voted against in 2001 and 2003. Permanent beats temporary.
— Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) January 2, 2013
Norquist's tweets of support for the deal follow his backing last month of House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) "Plan B" proposal, a move that put the Americans for Tax Reform president at odds with the heads of some other prominent conservative groups, including the Club for Growth and Heritage Action.
The cleavage between those groups on both "Plan B" as well as the fiscal cliff compromise suggests that the GOP's internal debate over taxes is only just ramping up.