House Speaker John Boehner today rejected a bipartisan short-term extension of a payroll tax cut passed over the weekend by the Senate.
Boehner said House Republicans would rather hold out for a year-long extension to the payroll tax holiday, unemployment insurance and Medicare reimbursement payments even though the political standoff could mean a lapse in the popular tax cut.
"Americans are tired of Washington's short-term fixes and gimmicks and fixes," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "We oppose the Senate bill because doing a two-month extension instead of a full-year extension causes uncertainty for job creators."
Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a full-year extension to the year-end jobs package before the Senate passed a two-month extension on Saturday. The short-term senate bill passed with broad bipartisan support. But after the vote, House Republicans held a members-only conference call Saturday afternoon where the rank and file united against the Senate's short-term fix.
In a news conference this morning, Boehner said that a two-month extension is only "punting the problem into next year," and he pointed out that even President Obama had continually advocated for a full year-long extension. "Congress needs to extend the payroll tax cut for working Americans for another year," the president said Dec. 2.
"The president has said repeatedly that no one should be going on vacation until the work is done. Democrat leaders in the House and Senate have said exactly the same thing, so I think it's time for the Senate Democrat leaders to follow the president's example, put their vacations on hold and work in a bipartisan manner to fix the nation's business," Boehner said. "I've been here for a while. I've seen Congress kick the can down road, [and] kick the can down the road. It's time to stop nonsense."
During negotiations last week, Boehner said House Republicans "expressed our reservations" about a two-month extension, and he said that he told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that he would not negotiate with them "until the Senate produced a bill."
The Senate bill passed 89-10, with just seven Republicans voting against the two-month extension.
One GOP senator who voted for the extension, Sen. Scott Brown, criticized Boehner's maneuver, calling it "irresponsible and wrong" and said it "threatens to increase taxes on hard-working Americans and stop unemployment benefits for those out of work."
"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, R-Mass., said in a statement. "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 compromise stand in the way of working together for the good of the American people."
Boehner said he expects the House to reject that temporary fix in a vote this evening, signaling "whether Congress will stay and do its work or go on vacation." Once the Senate bill is rejected, the House is expected to pass a motion as soon as Tuesday to proceed to conference negotiations.
"When there's a disagreement between the two chambers, we sit down as a conference and resolve those differences, and that's exactly what I believe the House will do," Boehner said.