There’s no place like home for the holidays. Unfortunately, Congress is about to go home for an extended break, and it’s looking more and more likely that they are going to leave the extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits dangling like an unfilled Christmas stocking.
Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner is stepping fully into his Grinch mode, now claiming that despite reports to the contrary, he had never made any sort of agreement to pass the senate version of the payroll tax bill, which would extend the reduced tax rate for another two months to give Congress time to negotiate a longer extension. “That’s not true. What I was outlining was the fact that having the Keystone pipeline in there was a success. But I raised concerns with the two-month process from the start.” He also said that he warned Republicans in Senate that their bill wasn’t likely to be approved in the House, and that he had told both Senate party leaders that he was not going to negotiate until the Senate had actually approved a bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, on the other hand, has rejected Boehner’s threats to vote down the bill, and his desire to conference for a compromise in order to pass a year-old extension, calling the House GOP pass the massively bipartisan Senate version. “My House colleagues should be clear on what their vote means today. If Republicans vote down the bipartisan compromise negotiated by Republican and Democratic leaders, and passed by 89 senators including 39 Republicans, their intransigence will mean that in ten days, 160 million middle class Americans will see a tax increase, over two million Americans will begin losing their unemployment benefits, and millions of senior citizens on Medicare could find it harder to receive treatment from physicians,” Reid warned.
For the House Republicans, reasons for rejecting the 2 month extension are simple. They do not want an extension at all in the first place, which is why they made their own bill so unbelievably partisan that the President offered his intention to veto it before it ever even passed. Should they manage to kill it all together now, they hope to weather the political fall out over the holidays and come back weeks later with many Americans no longer as angry, and the issue off the table. A two month extension means another fight soon, a fight that is one of the key factors in pulling down Republican approval ratings, and this time as the House members are launching their reelection bids.
The House will vote on the bill later tonight, where it is expected it will be defeated. Boehner will then advocate sending it to committee to negotiate between the two versions, a negotiation Reid has stated will never occur. Friday, Congress adjourns.
It looks like it may be a less than happy New Year for many.
Photo credit: revisorweb