Tax Talks Handed Off to Small Group of Lawmakers

By Staff | November 30, 2010 | 6:50 PM EST

Washington (AP) - Congressional leaders have appointed a small bipartisan group of lawmakers to meet with Obama administration officials to negotiate a deal to extend Bush-era tax cuts that expire at the end of the year.

But even as negotiators meet, the House could go ahead with a planned vote on Thursday to extend the middle-class tax cuts, letting tax cuts for the wealthy expire, said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who will negotiate on behalf of House Democrats.

"Things can change around here, but the hope would be to try and get something by Thursday," Van Hollen said.

Four lawmakers, a Democrat and a Republican from both the House and Senate, are to hold a series of meetings with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House Budget Director Jacob Lew.

President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress want to extend tax cuts for middle- and lower-income taxpayers, while Republicans want to extend them for everyone.

Congressional leaders from both parties met with Obama at the White House on Tuesday to jump-start discussions on taxes and other issues.

Republicans said their goal is to make sure no one gets a tax increase at the start of the year. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her goal is to protect middle-class taxpayers.

Democrats in Congress will be represented by Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Van Hollen, a member of Pelosi's leadership team.

Republicans will be represented by Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the GOP whip, and Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.