For the second time in as many days, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is increasing the heat on the payroll tax conference committee.
The committee, tasked with finding a deal to extend the payroll tax cut for a year before its Feb. 29 deadline, has met three times, making little - if any - progress.
Reid today said that Senate Democrats are already "drafting" a bill as a "backup" if the committee fails to reach agreement. The majority leader said he would bring the bill to the floor "if we don't have something in the relatively near future from the payroll conference committee.
"If we have to put it forward we will," Reid said on a conference call today with reporters, "Democrats will not let taxes go up on the middle class.
The two-month extension of the payroll tax cut expires March 1, leaving the committee slightly more than three weeks to broker a deal.
"We need to get a payroll tax bill done," Reid said. "I have great confidence in my conferees, but I am not going to stand by while the stalling takes place on the Republican side."
The bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers was chosen by Senate and House leaders after the House and Senate failed to pass one bill for a year-long extension of the payroll tax cut, opting instead to pass the short two-month deal and leave the larger negotiation to the conference committee.