House set to vote on AIG bonus tax -- will it pass?

House Minority Leader John Boehner calls the bill a "sham," but is telling Republicans to vote their conscience.

Published March 19, 2009 5:45PM (EDT)

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote within the next hour or so on a bill that would institute a 90 percent excise tax on bonuses like the ones AIG paid out recently. Given the rage about the payouts that has dominated the news this week, the legislation is expected to get pretty overwhelming support. Even so, it might not pass.

House Democratic leaders are bringing the bill to the floor under a suspension of the rules, which has some advantages and one big disadvantage. On the one hand, no amendments will be allowed and time for debate will be restricted, which is a plus for supporters. On the other, the procedure means that a supermajority -- two-thirds -- will be required for passage. That means Democrats will have to get all of their members to vote for the bill, and will have to persuade at least 36 Republicans to do so as well.

That may yet happen. But House Minority Leader John Boehner has made it clear he opposes the bill, calling it a "sham" and saying it was only a "half-hearted" effort. However, he's reportedly not pressing Republicans to join him in opposition, and is allowing them to vote either way. However, the leader of the conservative Republican Study Committee, Georgia Rep. Tom Price, is asking members of his group to vote against.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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