House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lashed out at Republicans today after Congress adjourned and members left Washington without passing extensions for three economic measures set to expire at the end of the year.
"At kitchen tables across the country, families are making difficult choices: 'Can we buy toys for our children during the holidays and still afford to pay the bills in January? Can we put gas in the car and still afford to put food on the table?'" Pelosi, D-Calif., asked in a new YouTube video. "Congress can take action to help those families today by making a firm promise: We will not go home for the holidays without extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits."
Pelosi, who has scheduled a noontime conference in the Capitol to express her displeasure over the partisan impasse to the media, said that Republicans should have committed to working through the weekend on a bipartisan solution.
"Republicans should join Democrats at the table to get the job done," she said. "As one people, we must also reaffirm our commitment to giving voice to all Americans, not just the privileged few. Americans can't wait. We must act now."
The House concluded legislative business for the week Thursday afternoon and met for a brief pro forma session this morning before shutting down until Monday. The Democrat-controlled Senate also adjourned for the weekend, even though its leadership pledged to wait out Republicans. The difference is that this week the Senate rejecteded four alternatives to extend the payroll tax credit.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is responsible for setting the floor schedule, told lawmakers that after this weekend's two-day break, the House would stay in session until all the business of the first session of the 112 th Congress was concluded. Still, legislators aim to finish up business by next Friday, although Cantor said a weekend session was still possible.
Thursday, House Republicans proclaimed that they had reached consensus within their ranks on a measure to extend the payroll tax credit, unemployment insurance benefits and the SGR/Doc Fix. That mega-bill is expected to reach the House floor early next week, but a provision to force the president to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project is likely to doom the package from passing in the Senate or fromPresident Obama signing it.
House Republicans believe that all three measures should be paid for, but Pelosi disagrees on paying for the payroll tax cut extension because the extension "would have a stimulative effect," she said, although she would not rule out striking a deal to finance it.
"We really haven't even seen what the Republicans fully are putting into any pay-fors for the payroll tax bill. I don't even think it needs to be paid for, because the stimulative effect of the bill is the best thing to do for America's families by putting money in their pockets, which they will spend. To inject demand into the economy is very important," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference Thursday. "Depending on how you pay for it can dull some of that stimulative effect, but if that's the way they want to pass it, then we are happy to sit down and find pay-fors for it."
As for what Pelosi will do this weekend without any legislative business to conduct at the Capitol, the Democratic leader does not have a public schedule. An aide said she would remain at the Capitol all day Friday but would not elaborate whether Pelosi planned to fly back to San Francisco, remain in Washington or travel to some other place before the House returns for legislative business Monday.