U.S. House of Representatives

By BRIAN FALER | 7/25/13 11:15 PM EDT

Democrats’ bright line on taxes isn’t so bright for some.

A sizable bloc of the 16 Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee is contemplating agreeing to Republican demands that any tax overhaul not include tax increases, bucking their party on what has become a signature issue.

“I’m not ruling anything out,’’ said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). “It depends.’’

Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal, another Ways and Means Democrat, said “I want to wait and see.’’

“It’s a long way from me being in, but we’re going to keep the conversation going,’’ he said.

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) said he’s skeptical of Republican demands for no new revenue but he’s willing to listen.

“You can quote me as saying I remain to be convinced, but I’m not going to push away from the table because of that,’’ he said.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), a reliable liberal voice on the tax-writing committee, said he’s willing to set aside his party’s mantra on revenue.

“That’s their opinion — I’m not ready to make that decision yet,’’ he said. “I’d be open to it.’’

It’s a far cry from full-throated support for a so-called revenue-neutral tax reform, which wouldn’t raise any more money for the government than the system in place today.

But the comments serve as a preview of the challenge Democratic leaders may face this fall if Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) follows through with his pledge to move a revenue-neutral overhaul package through his panel by the end of the year.

It would be a coup for Republicans to win even one Democratic vote when the still-unreleased legislation comes before the panel. Republicans would claim bipartisan support for their approach, winning political cover for their members and putting Democratic leaders on the defensive.

For now, top Democrats are expressing confidence that the party will stick together.

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