Washington (CNN) – On the same day Congressional and White House negotiators met to broker a compromise on how to deal with the Bush-era tax cuts that are expiring at the end of the year, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that House Democrats would push ahead on a vote Thursday to permanently extend tax breaks just for those making $250,000 a year or less. Republicans argue tax cuts should be extended for everyone, including the wealthy.
Hoyer said the House bill would include permanent extensions of income tax rates for the middle class, plus tax breaks for married couples, the child tax credit, and the earned income tax credit.
The Maryland Democrat insisted that there was common ground between Republicans and Democrats on ensuring there are no tax increases for people making $250,000 or less and cited several polls showing the American public supports this approach. "We have agreement on that. There is not agreement on other aspects of issue, as you all know. But it is a shame that what we have agreement on is being held hostage by that on which we do not have agreement."
Hoyer maintained that moving forward with just a vote on the so-called middle class tax cuts would not interfere with the negotiations on the broader tax cuts, telling reporters Wednesday he spoke with the House Democratic negotiator in the talks, Maryland Democratic Rep Chris Van Hollen. "He and I both agree that this matter moving forward should not undermine negotiations on a compromise," Hoyer said.
Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN the vote was always part of the Democrats' plans and was intended to press the importance of their policy stand.
"To show our position very clearly that Democrats support tax cuts for the middle class. We think it is fairer thing to do and is necessary at this time in our economy," Pelosi said.
Hoyer emphasized that Democrats are following through on a commitment to avoid tax increases on the middle class. Republicans, he said, are the ones who decided in 2001 to let the tax cuts expire this year. "It is an effort to show, as we said before the election, that we were going to make sure the middle income working men and women of America did not have the consequences of the Republican sunset."
House GOP Whip Eric Cantor said in a statement the Democrats' plan is a "non-starter, and is completely contrary to the discussions that we had with the President yesterday at the White House. This is nothing more than political chicanery and undermines the President's ongoing discussions and efforts on tax rates."
Cantor said the tax cuts should be extended for everyone.
"We call on Speaker Pelosi and President Obama to stop the gimmicks and allow all members of the House – Republican and Democrat – to vote on legislation that would prevent tax increases for every American, "he said.