Making an obstructionism exacta today, Senate Republicans defeated the motion to proceed on a second payroll tax cut bill by a 50-48 count. The roll call is here. Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders crossed the aisle to vote with all the Republicans. Sanders opposes the measure because another year of payroll tax cuts threatens Social Security.
Republicans claim to support the concept of extending the payroll tax cut for 2012, but oppose the pay-for in this bill of a 1.9% surtax on millionaires. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon already thought he was paying twice that much, according to remarks from earlier today.
The Republican plan is to allow the House to pass their payroll tax cut package, which has an assortment of poison pills included, in particular the shift of authority for approving the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from the President to a federal energy panel, and the rollback of an EPA rule on industrial boilers. Republicans hope to get majority support for this in the House, and then jam the Senate with it by leaving town. Democrats have already achieved majority support for their payroll tax cut versions in the Senate, but because of archaic quirks in Senate rules, they need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.
It appears that the President’s opposition to the House GOP plan has turned conservatives around:
The plan was met with enthusiasm from Republicans who last week gave House Speaker John A. Boehner an earful about attempts to reduce the payroll taxes paid by workers to 3.1 percent of wages, from the current 4.2 percent.
“It’s a solid plan,” said Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee. “I like the unemployment reforms quite a bit.”
Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a leader of conservative Republicans in the House, also welcomed the package. “The fact that the president doesn’t like it makes me like it even more,” Mr. Jordan said. “We are letting families keep more of their own money.”
“I was undecided last week,” said Representative Phil Gingrey, Republican of Georgia. “But I am going to vote for this now.”
Likewise, Representative Allen B. West, Republican of Florida and an early opponent of the payroll tax holiday extension, said of the leaders: “They heard us. They took our concerns into account.” Senate Democrats were not impressed by the proposal.
I guess the tension over whether to include corporate tax breaks in the package has subsided.
We’ll see the House pass their version next week. It’s unclear how this will progress after that.
UPDATE: Just out from Harry Reid:
House Republicans’ bill is a partisan joke that has no chance of passing the Senate, but middle-class families facing a thousand-dollar tax hike on January 1st are not laughing. Instead of playing political games, Congress should work to find common ground. In the days ahead, I intend to do exactly that.
So now we’re at the part where both sides blame the other for failing to prevent a tax increase.