Boehner agrees to Friday payroll tax vote

Dec. 22, 2011 at 9:59 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he has agreed to schedule a vote Friday on a two-month extension to the payroll tax cut.

Earlier Thursday Boehner said he wanted House and Senate negotiators to work out a full-year deal to extend the payroll tax reduction without a two-month extension.

But Boehner, apparently bowing to pressure from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., agreed to the Friday vote, saying in a statement: "[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid and I have reached an agreement that will ensure taxes do not increase for working families on Jan. 1 while ensuring that a complex new reporting burden is not unintentionally imposed on small business job creators. … The Senate will join the House in immediately appointing conferees, with instructions to reach agreement in the weeks ahead on a full-year payroll tax extension. We will ask the House and Senate to approve this agreement by unanimous consent before Christmas. I thank our members -- particularly those who have remained here in the Capitol with the holidays approaching -- for their efforts to enact a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut for working families."

In a statement issued by the White House, President Barack Obama called the agreement "good news, just in time for the holidays."

"This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people's lives. And I want to thank every American who raised your voice to remind folks in this town what this debate was all about. It was about you."

Citing GOP sources, CNN said Boehner outlined the provisions of the agreement during a conference call Thursday but declined to allow fellow Republicans to ask questions of register objections. One GOP House member who took part in the call said Boehner was "tired and ticked off."

In announcing the deal publicly, Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill the way he and other House leaders handled the issue "may not have been politically the smartest thing in the world" but he claimed "we were able to fix what came out of the Senate."

Obama said earlier Thursday House Republicans should listen to McConnell and pass a short-term extension of the payroll tax cut.

McConnell asked Boehner to agree to a short-term extension of the tax cut similar to the plan passed overwhelmingly in the Senate, and in exchange asked Reid, D-Nev., to appoint members to a joint conference committee that would prepare a final bill for Obama's signature, CNN reported.

"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."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the two competing plans could probably be resolved "within an hour," CNN said.

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, told Bloomberg News an agreement is in sight.

"At this point, we've built half a bridge as Republicans are waiting for Democrats to start on their end of this thing. We think we can meet and actually extend this for the full year," Brady said.

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