WASHINGTON -- The House overwhelmingly defeated President Bush's election-year tax-cut package yesterday, paving the way for Democrats to push through their own alternative today -- a plan that Mr. Bush has repeatedly threatened to veto.
The action came on a vote of 427-1, as Democrats, who opposed Mr. Bush's tax-cut package largely on partisan grounds, were joined by 163 House Republicans, who objected because the measure did not include companion spending cuts that Mr. Bush had proposed.
Today, the House is expected to reject a stripped-down version of Mr. Bush's plan, crafted by House Republicans. After that proposal is put to a vote, lawmakers will turn to the Democratic plan.
House strategists conceded yesterday that the vote on the Democratic package is expected to be close, with many Democrats -- fearful that their party's alternative might increase the budget deficit and push interest rates up again -- decidedly lukewarm about it.
House leaders intensified their campaign yesterday to rally more support for the Democratic alternative, appealing for party unity and suggesting to unenthusiastic lawmakers that the bill faces a veto anyway. Party strategists conceded that there are not enough Democratic votes to override. In that case, the tax-cut legislation simply would die.
That would fit in with what many perceive as the party's strategy -- to force Bush to veto the tax-reduction plan and then blame him for derailing it.