- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2003

House Republicans will try to pass their $82 billion tax-cut bill today, sending back to the Senate a much broader tax cut than the $10 billion bill senators passed last week.

Republican aides said they have the votes to pass their version, which will come to the floor as a substitute for the Senate’s version, and said they expect to win some Democratic support as well — if they can pass rules of debate that limit votes solely to the Republican leaders’ proposal.

Democrats vowed to fight those rules.

“Democrats are going to work to fight this ploy tooth and nail and defeat the rule that would allow its consideration,” said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat.

Meanwhile, House Republicans have let the White House know they weren’t pleased when White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer seemed to undercut their efforts and give rhetorical ammunition to Democrats.

On Monday, Mr. Fleischer said the president wants to sign the Senate bill, and urged the House to send it to him quickly.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat and one of those calling for passage of the Senate bill, paraphrased Mr. Fleischer’s remarks on the floor yesterday in chastising House Republicans.

“Do what the president has asked, without equivocation,” she said.

Mr. Fleischer’s remarks produced several news accounts of a potential rift between the White House and House Republicans.

One Republican aide said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, “expressed a certain level of displeasure with [White House Chief of Staff Andrew H.] Card during leadership meetings.”

“Loyalty is a two-way street. It’s one thing to have policy disagreements, but another not to get a heads-up when you’re going to undermine our efforts,” the aide said.

Yesterday, Mr. Fleischer said the president wants to sign something with the child credit included, but didn’t say whether that had to be the Senate bill alone.

“What the president wants at the end of the day is to make sure that the Congress delivers, that action be taken, that child credits promised are child credits delivered,” he said.

The Senate passed a $10 billion bill that would extend the $1,000 child tax credit to families with incomes so low they have no income-tax liability. The benefit would apply to about 7 million families with incomes between $10,500 and $26,625. It is offset by extending customs duties that are scheduled to expire.

The House package extends the $1,000-per-child tax credit through 2010, eliminates the eligibility disparity between married couples and individuals in qualifying income for the child credit, and includes several smaller tax cuts for military families. The bill does not include offsetting taxes or fees.

On Tuesday, Rep. Bill Thomas, California Republican and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said his panel’s bill will test whether senators are interested in politics or policy.

He particularly pointed to Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Democrat, who voted against the tax-cut package and the final conference agreement on the Senate floor last month, calling on her to vote for the bill to prove she is interested in more than being re-elected in November 2004.

Yesterday, Mrs. Lincoln and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, issued a joint statement calling on the House to forgo its bill and just pass the Senate bill.

“We don’t have time to hold these working families hostage in a protracted debate about another large tax cut,” the two women said. “Instead, we encourage members of the House to join with the 94 senators who voted for our bill to right a wrong.”

The Senate bill passed last week 94-2, with the two Republican senators from Oklahoma, Don Nickles and James M. Inhofe, voting against it.

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