Pelosi Gets Squeezed in the Tax Deal

Flickr/<a href="">The White House</a> (<a href="">Creative Commons</a>)

Obama’s tax deal appears poised to pass the Senate this week, with a key procedural vote on the bill lined up for Monday afternoon. Major changes to the deal are unlikely at this point, but the liberal revolt against the bill hasn’t shown many signs of subsiding. Caught in the middle is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has quietly supported her caucus’ objections and vowed to make changes to the bill, but who could soon be forced to bring a deal that liberals hate to the House floor. And it looks increasingly likely that minor tweaks are all that Pelosi will be able to get out of the deal. As Politico‘s Mike Allen reported this weekend, Pelosi was single-handedly responsible for putting in the tax credits for clean energy and green jobs that got thrown into the Senate bill at the last minute:

At a House Caucus meeting this week, Vice President Biden and members of the Obama economic team…got an earful from Speaker Pelosi and some of her colleagues about the fact that despite a big push from the V.P., the Republicans had not agreed to put 1603—a popular tax credit for renewable energy and green jobs — into the tax framework. Pelosi called it a “must change.”

The administration urgently got the message to Senators Baucus and Reid that if there was one thing to add to the tax extenders for the House, it was 1603. Baucus and Reid — who had also gotten a earful on 1603 from Senators Cantwell, Feinstein and Boxer—were able to get Republicans to agree to 1603 at the last minute, giving Pelosi a big victory on green jobs—and tangible proof that she had improved at least part of the tax framework that the administration had initially presented the House.

The clean energy sweeteners weren’t enough to quell liberal opposition last week. But though it’s a small win, the change might help preserve Pelosi’s credibility with a Democratic caucus that was divided about whether she should return to her leadership post in the first place.


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  • Suzy Khimm was a reporter in the Washington bureau of Mother Jones from March 2010 until June 2011. For more of her stories, click here. Follow her on Twitter here.