Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), the first Republican to publicly call on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to allow a separate vote on a bill extending the Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans, predicted on Sunday that such a measure could pass in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. Cole’s admission come as Republicans are pressuring leadership to back off its opposition to increasing marginal tax rates on individuals making more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000 a year.
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Cole said, “Yeah, honestly I think if it got to the floor, it would carry”:
“I think it would,” said Cole, a deputy majority whip. “Look, that’s my judgment, but I spend a lot of time counting votes and looking around. But this doesn’t say we’re going to raise taxes on anybody, it says OK this group for sure, your taxes aren’t going up. Get that done with, get it over with.”
A growing number of lawmakers are advising Boehner and GOP leadership to allow a vote on the measure as part of a package to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Politico on Saturday that the GOP should vote “present” on such a bill — one version of which has already advanced in the Senate — and on Sunday Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) predicted that if the measure passed, Republicans could regain leverage and demand steep cuts to entitlements. Last month, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the Republican Conference Chairman, said that while he wouldn’t personally support a measure that raises taxes, “there may be enough Republicans who would vote for something like that.”
Despite their rhetorical support, however, Republican members have yet to sign the discharge petition filed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that would force the House to vote on the middle-income tax cut extension.