ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
The divide between Senate Democrats and Republicans on the tax cut compromise was crystal clear listening to leaders of both parties describe the deal today.
The Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell said, “I think the vast majority of the members of the Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate feel that this is a step in the right direction, an important step to take for the American people, and I think the vast majority of my members will be supporting it.”
“The agreement,” he stated confidently, “is essentially final.”
Not so fast, responded Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid minutes later.
“This is only a framework. It's up to the Congress to pass it. Some in my caucus still have concerns about this proposal,” he warned.
“It's something that's not done yet. Let's make that clear,” he emphasized.
Asked directly how he will vote, Reid replied, “I'm going to do what I think is right when it all comes down to it.”
Then came the follow-up question: will Senate Democrats ultimately sign off on this deal?
“No, I think we're going to have to do some more work on it,” he responded.
Reid was speaking to reporters after a Democratic caucus lunch that featured a visit by Vice President Biden to try to drum up support for the deal. Biden met with senators for about an hour. Reid said Senate Democrats will hold another meeting tomorrow to continue working on the issue. The Senate is expected to act on the tax deal before the House does, but nothing is set in stone and no votes are likely to take place on it until next week.
Even though Senate Democrats have voiced unhappiness with the deal, only Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, has vowed to filibuster it. “I will do everything in my power to stand up for the American middle class and defeat this agreement,” Sanders said in a statement.
But thus far most Senate Democrats have criticized the plan, while not going so far as to commit to opposing it. A few such as Sen. Kent Conrad, D-ND, and Bill Nelson, D-FL, have said they will support the plan. And Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-CT, predicted to reporters today that most Senate Democrats will ultimately vote in favor of the deal. The real roadblock to passage, Congressional aides say, will be House Democrats.