McConnell Proposes a Way Forward on Payroll Tax Standoff

In his first public statement since seen high-fiving after the Senate passed their payroll tax bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., today proposed a compromise to break the impasse over how to extend the payroll tax cut that has held Congress in a month-long standstill.

The proposal: the House passes the short-term extension that the Senate passed Saturday and the Senate appoints members to a conference committee which will negotiate a long-term extension.

"House Republicans sensibly want greater certainty about the duration of these provisions, while Senate Democrats want more time to negotiate the terms," McConnell said in a statement.  "These goals are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both."

It is a way for House Republicans to cave but still claim they got something in the end.

"Leader Reid should appoint conferees on the long-term bill and the House should pass an extension that locks in the thousands of Keystone XL pipeline jobs, prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions, and allows Congress to work on a solution for the longer extensions."

Senate Majority Leader Reid, D-Nevada has chosen not to appoint conferees to a conference committee, saying that he will only re-open long term negotiations if the House first passes the Senate's bill.

"There is no reason why Congress and the president cannot accomplish all of these things before the end of the year," McConnell says.

Yesterday, one of the top Democrats in the Senate, Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., suggested that if the House passes the two-month deal, then the Senate could potentially come back to Washington next week and work toward a year-long deal.

"If the House GOP won't agree to a two-month deal, how we can believe they'd ever agree to a full-year deal in the next 10 days? That's why we want a two-month deal up front," Schumer said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. "Pass that, and we can negotiate a longer-term extension right away, and maybe we can have the whole thing done by New Year's."