Holidays on the Hill? Obama, Congress Might Stay in DC Over Payroll Deal

Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

The Senate Democratic leadership huddled with President Obama in the Oval Office this morning on the payroll tax cut fight in Congress, emerging with a united message.

"We're going to stay here as long as it takes to get this done," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.  "We will stay here to Christmas and even to New Years to get this done."

This goes for President Obama too, who told Democrats today that he will stay in Washington, D.C., and miss or delay his annual Hawaiian vacation if the payroll tax cut extension, which expires at the end of the year, is not passed before the holidays.

"He said Michelle and the girls will have a great time in Hawaii, they won't need me there," Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said paraphrasing what President Obama told them in the meeting this morning.

Democrats said the president also gave them an emphatic warning.

"The president made it clear in our meeting in the Oval office this morning, he is committed to this payroll tax cut for working families across America," Sen.Dick Durbin, D-Ill, said, "(and) gave us fair warning: we're staying in Washington until we get the job done. Our holiday gift to American families is not going to be a tax increase."

With dueling plans in the House and the Senate between parties, Senate Democrats today warned that the House of Representatives, and notably Speaker of the House Boehner will be "embarrassed," if the House adjourns for the year without passing a plan out of both houses of Congress.

"Don't go home Speaker Boehner because we're going to be here and you're going to be embarrassed if you do," Schumer said.

The House is aiming to conclude its legislative business by Dec. 16, but with little time and no way forward towards a deal few believe that a payroll tax extension can be negotiated and settled before then.

Painting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., as out of control of his caucus on this issue, Reid brought up the Republican presidential candidates who have even come out in support of the payroll tax cut, yet noted that more than half of the Senate Republican conference defected on the Republicans' own bill last week in a vote in the Senate.

"Republican leaders have done their best to convince the American public that they support a tax cut for the middle class," Reid said.  "McConnell, Boehner, Romney and Gingrich all say they favor an extension of the payroll cut. They have a funny way of showing it. Obviously they are having trouble getting their members to go along with it."

In continuing to push the Senate Democratic plan, as proposed by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Democrats today tried to address Republicans concerns about their bill: that the plan is taking money out of Social Security and that the surtax on Americans making over $1 million would hurt small business job creators.

Democrats came armed with a letter from the Chief Actuary of Social Security, Stephen C. Goss, confirming that their payroll tax cut legislation will not affect the Social Security Trust Fund.

 " We estimate that the projected level of the OASI and DI Trust Funds would be unaffected by enactment of this provision," Goss writes.

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