With Senate vote underway, Dodd will “reluctantly” support debating tax cut deal

Senators who are still on the fence about the $900 billion tax cut package, brokered last week by the White House and Senate Republicans, will get a little extra time to make up their minds today.

At 3 p.m. today, the Senate started what would normally be a 15-minute vote on the measure. But leaders in the chamber agreed to keep the roll call open for at least a couple of hours, because bad weather in the Midwest has delayed some lawmakers making their way back to Washington today.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., wasn’t delayed, but he did spend the morning in Connecticut wrapping up his retirement tour through the state.

A spokeswoman for Dodd said Monday that he will “reluctantly” vote to move forward with debate on the tax bill, which has sparked fierce opposition from some Democrats because it would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy and add a generous new tax break on estates for millionaires. Dodd said in a statement that the bill was “deeply flawed,” but still represented the “best chance” to extend key economic benefits for the middle class.

Today’s vote is only on whether to begin debating the measure, with final Senate approval possible in the next day or two.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent, has already said that he strongly supports the White House-GOP deal.

Meanwhile in the House, many Democrats were still struggling with their strategy on the package. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, who until now has not made her position clear, said in a statement Monday that she wasn’t too keen on the legislation, which would also extend unemployment benefits for 13 months and includes a bevy of other tax breaks.

“I voted to support extending tax relief for the middle class and unemployment insurance for those unable to find work, as well as advocated for other measures to boost the economy, like an expanded child tax credit,” DeLauro said. “I, however, have deep reservations about extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, including the egregious estate tax provision included in the proposed compromise, that do little to create jobs and economic growth.”

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