The House on Tuesday will vote to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits package beyond the two-month Senate plan already in the pipeline for the president’s signature.
House Republicans hope to reject the Senate’s plan, then approve another measure requiring more work be done by Congress to extend the tax cut package for at least one year.
“The president has said repeatedly no one should be going on vacation until the work is done,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R. –Ohio). “This is a vote on whether Congress will stay and do its work or go on vacation.”
In a rare Saturday session, the Senate voted 89-10 for the package, which also extends Medicare reimbursements to doctors for two years and forces President Barack Obama to make a decision on the Keystone pipeline within 60 days, then left town for the Christmas holiday.
But the House plans to vote on a measure that would require the Senate to return to Washington and renegotiate the bill.
President Obama originally called on Congress to craft a one-year package, but White House officials said Monday that it would create an economic setback if the House declined to pass the two-month extension.
“Senator McConnell and I negotiated a compromise at Speaker Boehner’s request,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.–Nev.) said in a statement earlier Monday. “I will not re-open negotiations until the House follows through and passes this agreement that was negotiated by Republican leaders, and supported by 90 percent of the Senate.”
At least one Republican Senator, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, called the House’s efforts “irresponsible and wrong.”
“I appreciate their effort to extend these measures for a full year, but a two-month extension is a good deal when it means we avoid jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of American families,” Brown said. “The refusal to compromise now threatens to increase taxes on hard-working Americans and stop unemployment benefits for those out of work. During this time of divided government, both parties need to be reasonable and come to the negotiating table in good faith. We cannot allow rigid partisan ideology and unwillingness to stand in the way of working together for the good of the American people.”
Republicans said a two-month economic policy is fiscally irresponsible.
Workers making $50,000 a year would pay $1,000 less in taxes next year under the House plan, $200 less than under the Senate plan. The House version would also freeze the pay of federal workers and members of Congress to help pay for the tax break.
Payroll processing companies say the 60-day tax cut doesn’t give them enough time to rework their computer software and in a letter to Congress asked members to reconsider the Senate’s decision.
Rep. Bob Gibbs (R.-Ohio) dubbed the Senate version the “I’ll be home for Christmas” plan, while House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.–Va.) called it “an unworkable solution.”
“The senate did their job, they produced a bill, and the house disagrees with it,” Boehner said. “Exactly what our members do not want to do, is just punt and do a two month fix and come back and do it again. We’re here, and we’re willing to work.”