(Reuters) - Senate Republicans on Monday blocked President Barack Obama's "Buffett Rule" legislation, which would have put a 30-percent minimum tax on millionaires, in a debate that is likely to resonate through the November general election.
Democrats, as expected, failed to garner the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate to move to a full debate and vote on the bill aimed at getting more tax revenues out of the wealthy.
Obama and congressional Republicans are squaring off this week over the tax hikes for millionaires and a Republican plan to give new tax cuts for businesses.
"Tonight, Senate Republicans voted to block the Buffett Rule, choosing once again to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest few Americans at the expense of the middle class," Obama said in a statement.
Though scant changes to tax policy are expected ahead of the November 6 election, the skirmishes are giving voters a preview of debates they will hear over the next seven months.
Obama and his fellow Democrats argue that raising taxes on the rich will help reduce deficits and bring more fairness to the tax code. Republicans are pushing a much different narrative of tax cuts - even if they add to deficits - as a way of creating jobs.
As Americans scurried to file tax returns by Tuesday, the Senate debated the Buffett Rule, which would require households earning more than $1 million to pay at least a 30-percent tax rate.