House GOP delays taking up tax-cut bill

Dec. 19, 2011 at 10:07 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Republican leaders of the U.S. House have put off any action on the Senate-passed payroll tax cut legislation until Tuesday.

After a House GOP conference meeting, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said Republican members stand by the "reasonable, responsible bill" they passed earlier and don't want to see the two-month extension approved overwhelmingly by the Senate last week sent to President Barack Obama.

"We're here, we're willing to work, we will appoint conferees and we hope the Senate will appoint conferees," Boehner said. "We outright reject the attempt by the Senate to kick the can down the road."

Roll Call reported Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California told his GOP colleagues during their meeting, "We are at a point where we have to hold and turn the tables on them."

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., drew cheers, the Washington publication said, when she told them, "The piece of manure that they sent over here is not worthy of our consideration."

Boehner said earlier in the day the Republicans want a yearlong extension.

"Americans are tired of Washington's short-term fixes and gimmicks, which are creating uncertainty for job creators at a time when millions of Americans are out of work," Boehner told reporters.

Members of the Senate, however, have left Washington and it remained uncertain whether they would return to take up a revised payroll tax measure.

In addition to extending the payroll-tax cut for 160 million American workers at a cost of $20 billion, the legislation would extend unemployment benefits at a cost of $8.4 billion and avoid cuts in doctors' Medicare payments at a cost of $4 billion. The measure, which would go into effect Jan. 1, would end Feb. 28.

Boehner had said Saturday the Senate bill, passed 89-10, was a "good deal" and a "victory" that he said House Republicans should pass. But he reversed his position on the measure Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," asking, "How can you do tax policy for two months?"

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said Obama believed lawmakers "should pass the two-month extension now to avoid a devastating tax hike from hitting the middle class in just 13 days," even though he also believed they must continue working toward a one-year deal.

The Senate measure includes a requirement that Obama quickly decide whether to issue a construction permit for the controversial 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline system to the Gulf Coast from Alberta, Canada.

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