WASHINGTON — With fiscal cliff negotiations creeping onward behind closed doors, House Democrats continued to publicly urge a vote Tuesday to extend tax cuts on income up to $250,000.
"The expression 'time is fleeting' has never been more apropos than it is today," Rep. Joseph Crowley, the newly elected vice chair of the House Democratic caucus, told reporters.
Democrats have contended since before Election Day that House Republicans should vote immediately to extend the cuts for 98 percent of taxpayers — "something we can all agree on," many Democratic lawmakers have repeated.
But Republican lawmakers, many of whom have pledged not to vote to raise taxes under any circumstances, have demanded that the cuts be extended for all tax brackets — and have blocked a vote in the meantime.
"No Republican who signs this is violating any pledge they took not to raise taxes," Rep. Tim Walz, a Minnesota Democrat who took the lead on the petition, said Tuesday, alluding to Grover Norquist's infamous anti-tax pledge. Walz added, "I think there's — I know there's Republicans over there who will take a look at this."
One Republican, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, said recently that he would support extending tax cuts in stages — and his name has been dropped regularly by Democrats ever since.
House Speaker John Boehner distanced himself from Cole's remark, and the question of how to net new revenue has persisted a major sticking point in the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations.
But Democrats remain hopeful that Republicans, in due time, will cede their hard line.
"This is a difficult time for Republicans," said Rep. John Larson, the outgoing chair of the House Democratic caucus, "and we want to provide them with every opportunity we can to save face."