House Speaker John Boehner struck a deal with Senate Leader Harry Reid on Thursday to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment checks before the New Year deadline.
The new agreement calls for immediate passage of a two-month extension, followed by further negotiations for a yearlong plan when Congress returns after the holiday break.
“We have fought the good fight,” Boehner said. “Even though it’s not exactly what we want. It’s not always easy to do the right thing.”
“We believe we came here to change the way this town does business. It’s time to do solid policy. It’s time to do it the right way,” Boehner said.
The House and Senate can proceed with the deal through procedural measures, but some Republicans say they are disappointed with the agreements, and may object to its passage thereby blocking the procedural votes.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R. –Kansas) said his disappointment was that the deal sticks with the Senate’s position to extend the break for only two months at a cost of $20 billion.
“This holiday season, Washington wrapped and put under the tree a gift of more uncertainty for America,” Huelskamp said. “Even though there is plenty of evidence this is a bad deal for America – especially our small business owners – the House has caved yet again to the president and Senate Democrats.”
Rep. Kevin Brady (R. –Texas) added: “I am willing to fight on but in the end House Republicans felt like they were re-enacting the Alamo, with no reinforcements and our friends shooting at us.”
Fox News quoted one unnamed Republican as saying Boehner’s leadership could be in jeopardy because of the deal.
However, Democrats and President Barack Obama are praising the agreement as a victory for the American people.
“This is good news, just in time for the holidays,” Obama said. “This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs.”
The retreat comes after a standoff between House Republicans and the Senate – the latter passed a two-month extension on Saturday then left for the Christmas holiday. But the House bucked and on Tuesday passed a different version that required a conference committee of both bodies to ultimately pass a yearlong extension,then most House members also left town.
The new agreement accomplished both goals, unless House Republicans buck the decision. The tax cuts and unemployment benefits expire on Dec. 31.
“With today’s agreement between the speaker and leader Reid, working Americans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their taxes will not go up at the end of the year and that the president will have to finally decide on whether to move forward on a pipeline project that would create thousands of American jobs,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. Ky.).
Rep. Patrick Meehan (R. -Penn) said the deal will also protect small businesses from added confusion and compliance costs that independent tax experts have warned against.
“Congress should approve this bipartisan compromise without delay,” Meehan said.