Washington (CNN) – A week after roiling many of his fellow Republicans by suggesting he could vote to extend just middle class tax cuts, House Minority Leader John Boehner is urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold an "up or down vote" on extending all of the Bush era tax cuts - including those for the wealthiest Americans.
"On the issue of job-killing tax hikes the American people are not going to accept anything less than the vote they deserve," Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday.
"Anything less than that is unacceptable," he said.
Democratic leaders - including President Barack Obama - want to allow the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year. They argue, among other things, that the roughly $700 billion price tag of extending the cuts would be fiscally irresponsible.
Republicans contend that a tax hike on any segment of the population would damage prospects for a more robust economic recovery. They also have asserted that a tax hike on those making over $250,000 would hurt small businesses.
Boehner found himself on the defensive with many rank-and-file Republicans after stating Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation" that he would vote for legislation extending only the tax cuts for those making under $250,000 if no alternatives were available. Since then, he has repeatedly stressed his intention to push for a full extension for at least two years.
Democratic leaders, however, have also run into problems with their rank-and-file members. Thirty-one House Democrats, most of whom face tough re-election bids this fall, have signed a letter to Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer urging them to extend expiring tax breaks for all income levels, including the wealthy.
With the midterm elections now less than two months away, top Democrats have not yet decided whether they will schedule a vote on the legislation before voters go to the polls.
The letter - written by Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah, Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois, Rep. Glenn Nye of Virginia and Rep. Gary Peters of Michigan - echoes many of the GOP arguments. It states that after listening to economists, small businesses and families over recent weeks, they are concerned that "raising any taxes right now could negatively impact economic growth."
"We believe in times of economic recovery it makes good sense to maintain things as they are in the short term, to provide families and businesses the certainty required to plan and make sound budget decisions. Providing this certainty will give small businesses, the backbone of our economic recovery, confidence and stability," the lawmakers wrote.
Hoyer said earlier this week that he would consider alternative proposals, but stressed he strongly favors allowing the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire.
– CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report