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House Democrats Balk Even As Tax Deal 'Gains Steam'

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET: As you'll see below, the news has changed considerably since we first published this post. Now, as NPR.org's headline reads, the story is that "House Democrats Balk At Tax-Cut Package."

We've reordered the updates to this post so that you can now see how things happened chronologically.

Our original post (at 10:54 a.m. ET):

Where do things stand on the deal President Obama cut with Congressional Republicans to extend Bush-era tax cuts, temporarily reduce the payroll tax and renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed (among other things)?

Well, after a day or so of headlines about how angry some of the president's liberal supporters were, there are reports like these:

Politico: "Tax Deal Gains Steam Toward Passage."

The Washington Post: "Rank-and-file Democrats warm to (the) agreement."

The Wall Street Journal: "The sweeping tax package negotiated by President Barack Obama and Republican lawmakers gained new momentum toward passage in the Senate, building pressure on balking House Democrats to accept the controversial deal."

The Associated Press: "Unhappy Democrats Say Tax Bill Likely To Pass."

Obama said this morning that whether the economy "moves forward or backward" could be determined by how Congress votes on the deal.

Update at 11:25 a.m. ET: We just updated the headline to add the question "but will House Democrats balk?" because CNN and NPR are reporting that members of the House Democratic caucus this morning agreed they are "not going to take up this tax cut package in the current form." And Democrats do hold the majority in the House until the new Congress is sworn into office next month.

Of course, some House Democrats might disagree — and want to go against their own caucus to join with Republicans in supporting the measure. But if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders are told by their caucus not to bring the measure to the floor, it probably won't be.

Update at 11:45 a.m. ET. Reuters is leading its story on the decision by House Democrats to oppose the deal in its current form with this:

"Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have agreed to seek changes in President Barack Obama's deal with Republicans to broadly extend tax cuts, Democratic Representative Pete DeFazio said on Thursday."

But an AP "alert" says "House Democrats pass resolution saying they will not vote on tax package."

Update at 12:10 p.m. ET. More on the news that members of the House Democratic caucus say they won't allow the deal — in its current form — to come to a vote. The Hill writes that:

"The non-binding vote held during a closed meeting of the caucus puts tremendous pressure on House leaders to fight for changes to the proposal, and raises questions about whether the administration's deal will move to the House floor."

Update at 12:22 p.m. ET: "While this doesn’t necessarily scuttle the whole tax deal," Politico writes, "it is 'highly unlikely' that the tax-cut agreement will come to the floor as is, according to senior Democratic aides. A tax compromise could still pass if an overwhelming majority of Republicans voted for it alongside several dozen Democrats. But at this point, Democrats are making it clear they want changes before anything comes to the House floor."

Update at 1:25 p.m. ET: NPR's David Welna reports from the Capitol that after interviewing about a dozen House Democrats, "what they're almost all demanding is that the estate tax provision (in the deal) be replaced with what the House passed last year — a 45% tax on everything over $3.5 million for individuals and $7 million for couples. There were also demands that the Social Security payroll tax break be offset (or "paid for" so that it doesn't add to budget deficits) and that there be no extension of the Bush tax cuts for the top two income tax brackets."

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