Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, continues to stress the 73 tax extensions included in the so-called tax extenders bill are not the problem for Congress. In fact, if the Senate were to vote on those provisions alone, he's willing to bet they'd pass unanimously. He says the deficit is the problem and until that's resolved he doesn't know how they'll solve the tax issues.
"I think there's been two or three different proposals on the table," Grassley said. "And each one of them tends to bring about a lower deficit so there might be some point where the deficit in a specific bill gets so low that it will get the 60 votes needed to get it passed and then of course you get the biodiesel passed."
Grassley's solution is to go back to the bipartisan, revenue-neutral proposal he was working to craft with Finance Chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., back in February. He says he can encourage Senator Baucus to return to that path.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are thinking of changing the legislation by shrinking the cost of a $24.2 billion provision extending extra federal Medicaid funds to struggling states. Moderate Republicans and two Democrats in the Senate refused to support a debate-limiting cloture motion June 17 because the bill that would have cost nearly $118 billion and increased the deficit by $55.1 billion. Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., says he thinks at least some cut in the Medicaid aid is necessary for passage of the bill. However it was unclear Tuesday how the changes being discussed would affect the deficit impact or cloture vote count.