Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he expects House Republicans to reject a Senate-passed payroll tax cut package later Monday and then head into an eleventh-hour conference to hammer out a new, longer-term deal.
During brief remarks to reporters, Boehner said Americans are “tired of Washington’s short-term fixes and gimmicks” and that the two-month deal passed by the Senate, and backed by the White House, would not last long enough.
“We oppose the Senate bill because doing the two-month extension instead of a full year extension causes uncertainty for job creators,” Boehner said. “I expect that the House will disagree with the Senate amendment and instead vote to formally go to conference. … And I expect the House to take up legislation that reinforces the need to extend the payroll tax relief for a full year rather than just two months.”
Senate Democrats continue to maintain that they have completed their work and will not re-open negotiations. In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that “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.”
That’s certainly a hardball stance. But Reid reiterated that Boehner empowered him and Mitch McConnell to come up with a deal, and that this was what they decided, and 89 Senators agreed with it. Boehner tried to backpedal away from these facts today, saying that “I made perfectly clear to Sen. Reid and Sen. McConnell sometime mid-last week that I would not enter into negotiations with them until the Senate produced a bill. The Senate produced a bill; we expressed our reservations.” Needless to say, there’s a communication breakdown here.
So this looks like an impasse. Boehner will have the House vote down the Senate bill today and request a conference; Reid refuses to negotiate until the Senate bill passes. Furthermore, even if negotiations were opened up it’s not clear there’s a path forward for an agreement at this time; that was the whole reason that the two-month stopgap became the compromise deal in the first place.
House Republicans may not want to take up this deal in February, but why they think that allowing the deal to collapse in December is a better idea isn’t clear.
UPDATE: Forgot to mention Scott Brown’s statement, where he says “The House Republicans’ plan to scuttle the deal to help middle-class families is irresponsible and wrong.” Senate Republicans really got hosed by their House counterparts on this. They voted almost unanimously for the stopgap, only to see the House Republicans reject it.