Leading House Dem Steny Hoyer Says "Urgency" of Tax Vote Clear, House Dems Will Probably Pass Legislation

Steny Hoyer
House Democrat Steny Hoyer AP

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a press briefing on Tuesday that he expects the House to consider tax plan by the end of the week, and added that, despite House Democrats' initial protests to the compromise, he believes the legislation will ultimately pass in the chamber.

Noting the Senate's recent support for the legislation - which they endorsed by 83 to 15 in a Monday night procedural vote - Hoyer acknowledged that "obviously there is strong support for moving ahead," which he attributed to "a very keen sense that allowing middle income taxes to go up on January 1 will not be good for the economy."

"I think what that vote reflects is the urgency that members of all spectrums feel about the middle income tax cut and unemployment insurance,"  Hoyer continued, adding, "I think, frankly, that ultimately we will pass legislation."

Hoyer said House Democrats "believe that there are provisions within the bill which are very, very helpful to growing the economy," but added that doubts remained about the Republican-favored language regarding the estate tax.

"There continues to be great concern about the treatment of estates," Hoyer said.

The Maryland Democrat did not say whether or not House Democrats would consider changing the estate tax, but indicated that the House was likely to vote on an amendment to the estate tax provision.

Hoyer also refrained from saying what changes he might lobby for in the bill. "I'm going to advocate what I think gives the House the ability to reflect its view," he said. "And I think the House feels that they want to take a position on at least one of the two items they believe are not productive to growing the economy and harm the deficit."

However, Senate Minority Leader McConnell said today the tax cut agreement "is not subject to being reopened" and urged the House to "simply pass the Senate bill" and send it to the White House for the president's signature.

Hoyer said he didn't think it was necessary for the president to meet with House Democrats on the matter. "I think the president has met with a lot of people in the caucus on this issue," Hoyer said. "I think the president's been very clear on the fact that he is uncomfortable with certain parts of this bill."

The House Democratic Caucus will meet tonight to discuss the path forward on tax cuts, and that the Rules Committee will do the same within the next two days.

Update: House Democrats will consider a resolution Tuesday night calling for the tax cuts in the deal to be extended for the same period of time as unemployment insurance, the Huffington Post reports.