GOP House Leaders Set Marriage Tax Relief Vote for Thursday

By Bruce Sullivan | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

Washington ( - House GOP leaders have scheduled a vote for Thursday on a $182 billion tax cut package for married couples, and they have sent a letter to House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) asking him to support their ten-year plan.

"The Marriage Penalty Relief Act of 2000 will give relief to all married couples who file jointly, not just some," said GOP Conference Vice Chairman Tillie Fowler (R-FL).

Fowler contrasted the GOP plan with the Democratic plan, which only offers $89 billion in tax relief over ten years and is aimed primarily at lower- and middle-income couples.

"It's a matter of fairness," said Fowler in announcing Thursday's vote and the letter to Gephardt.

Representative John Thune (R-SD) appeared with Fowler at the press conference. He told that GOP leaders have not received a response from Gephardt. Thune added that he does not believe that the Democrats are sincerely interested in tax relief but are "playing politics" with the issue.

"I think they are just playing games with it," Thune told "I don't think they want tax relief at all."

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer (R-TX) said the Democrat plan "doesn't amount to anything" and is simply a political ploy.

"The Democrat's plan is a sham, a fig leaf, and nothing more than an attempt to confuse married couples and to try to pull the wool over the eyes of voters who deserve tax relief," said Archer.

Almost 50 million married couples filed joint tax returns in 1997, according to Internal Revenue Service statistics.

The White House reportedly has threatened to veto the House GOP marriage tax penalty relief plan.