Entries in Credits (3)


Senate Passes Tweaked Payroll Tax Bill

ABC NewsUPDATE: The House of Representatives agreed by unanimous consent to pass a temporary two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, delaying a contentious battle over a long-term solution until early next year.

(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate has done its part procedurally on the payroll tax bill, so the next step is handed over to the House of Representatives. In session Friday for 1 minute, 28 seconds the Senate passed by Unanimous Consent the updated, slightly tweaked version of the two-month payroll tax cut extension.

This action is contingent on the House of Representatives passing the same bill before Jan. 1.

The Senate needed to pass this through again because of some minor tweaks from the House.

At the end of the less-than-two-minute session, the presiding officer, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, ended with a “happy holidays,” to all. The Senate will be on recess until the New Year.

Haling this as a “new day,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, celebrated the Senate’s passage of the two-month payroll tax deal and appointed, as the compromise called for, his designees for the conference committee.

Reid has chosen Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania to the conference committee to negotiate a year-long payroll tax deal. The group will get to work right away.

“They're going to work expeditiously to come up with a long-term arrangement on the payroll tax, on unemployment, of course, and on the doc fix,” Reid said. “I have instructed my staff to get me together with them sometime next week.  And what -- we'll get -- we, Senate Democrats, will get together.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, will be announcing his three picks for the committee soon, his office says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


House Republicans Cave on Payroll Tax Cuts

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- House Republican leaders have decided to accept a short-term extension of the payroll tax cut, sources told ABC News on Thursday, preventing a hike in taxes just nine days before the tax break expires for 160 million Americans.

House GOP leaders appeared to be adopting a compromise suggested by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass the two-month extension in exchange for the Senate appointing members to a conference committee, which will negotiate a longer-term solution. The proposal won a nod of approval from President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

House Republican leaders are expected to present this proposal to their members in a 5 p.m. conference call.

The bill could be passed, potentially, by unanimous consent, which would not require the full House to return to a vote.

Obama on Thursday assailed House Republicans for a "ridiculous Washington standoff" and stepped up pressure on them to pass a two-month extension bill that sailed through the Senate by a bipartisan vote. The president, who delayed his vacation to Hawaii with his family because of the stalemate, was surrounded by individuals who wrote to the White House detailing how the end of the payroll tax break would affect their lives.

House Republicans faced increasing pressure, even from their Senate counterparts, to find a compromise quickly. Outwardly, the House GOP leadership showed no outward sign of caving in, reiterating defiantly that they would not support the Senate bill.

"The fact is, we can do better," Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a news conference. "It's time for us to sit down and have a serious negotiation and solve this problem."

But internally, even rank and file House Republicans were beginning to break away from House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP leadership's insistence that Congress approve a year-long deal to extend the payroll tax cut, instead urging the speaker to consider a short-term deal.

All week long, conservatives ranging from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to Karl Rove took shots at Boehner and the House GOP for holding out for a long-term extension.

Senior Democrats on Thursday pounced on Republicans for not agreeing to the two-month extension.

"Republicans have been arguing about process and politics," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said. "The stakes are too high to be arguing about politics and process. The Republican contention that the two-month compromise somehow is unworkable is simply untrue."

If members of Congress couldn't come together on a deal by the end of next week, 160 million American workers would have seen a 2 percentage point increase in their taxes, starting Jan. 1, raising the overall tax burden to 6.2 percent. Three million people who are receiving long-term unemployment benefits would also see their benefits drop. The gridlock also impacts Medicare, which will likely lower its reimbursements to doctors.

The payroll tax cuts, passed by George W. Bush's administrations are popular on both sides of the political aisle. Washington experienced a similar gridlock in 2010 when the time came to renew the cuts.

Conservatives have lashed out at House Republicans for creating a "fiasco" that puts the party in a negative light and virtually hands over the win to Obama and Democrats.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Payroll Tax Credit Reaches Stalemate on Capitol Hill

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- House Republicans voted Tuesday to reject a bipartisan Senate-passed bill for a two-month extension of a popular payroll tax cut, demanding a formal conference to work out their differences instead. But Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate have so far insisted on the Senate bill and publicly vowed not to appoint any conferees to the negotiations.

The standoff is jeopardizing the future of the tax cut, which benefits 160 million Americans and is set to expire at the end of the year.

President Obama quickly jumped on the political advantage of the maneuver, making an appearance in Washington to demand that House Republicans reconsider the Senate-passed bill.

“I need the Speaker and House Republicans to put politics aside, put aside issues where there are fundamental disagreement and come together on something we agree on,” Obama said, appearing in the White House briefing room. “The American people are weary of this brinkmanship they’re tired of it and they expect better,” Obama said.

But House Speaker John Boehner was quick to fire back. Asked moments later at a press conference about the president’s demand that Republicans “help out,” Boehner said, “I need the president to help out,”  to raucous cheers from his colleagues. He argued that a conference between the House and Senate to work out their differences is the way the Constitution spells out for resolving differences.

By a mostly party-line vote of 229-193, House Republicans defied Congressional Democrats by passing a motion that the House disagree to the Senate Amendments to H.R. 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011, and request a conference with the Senate. Seven Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic caucus in opposing the motion.

A senior GOP leadership aide said that with a narrow majority in the Senate, Democrats needed to first negotiate with Republicans to pass a Senate bill before Boehner would concede any ground from the House-passed bill.

“The Senate did produce a bill, and today Republicans will move to conference to reconcile the two measures,” the aide said shortly before the vote. “That’s how Congress works, and we see no reason to stray from regular order. This is the system our founders gave us, so let’s take the next 10 days and make it work.”

The Senate passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax on Saturday, and the House passed its own year-long extension last Tuesday.

Monday night, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi insisted she would not appoint Democratic members to the conference -- a decision in line with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s declaration to sit out the negotiations, while simultaneously accusing Republicans of stalling the process.

Once Tuesday’s legislative business concludes, it’s unclear what the next move might be in order to prevent the tax cut from expiring at the end of the year. Republicans are holding out hope that Pelosi and Reid will buckle under pressure and appoint conferees. Members say that later Tuesday the House is expected to recess, but lawmakers could be called back if and when there is a product to vote on from the conference negotiations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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