Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who negotiated the two-month stopgap bill on the payroll tax, unemployment insurance and the doctor’s fix that passed the Senate with 89 votes, ended his silence on the House GOP actions on the bill, by saying that they should go ahead and pass the stopgap. This further isolates John Boehner and House Republicans. Here’s the full statement from McConnell:
“The House and Senate have both passed bipartisan bills to require the President to quickly make a decision on whether to support thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs through the Keystone XL pipeline, and to extend unemployment insurance, the temporary payroll tax cut and seniors’ access to medical care. There is no reason why Congress and the President cannot accomplish all of these things before the end of the year. House Republicans sensibly want greater certainty about the duration of these provisions, while Senate Democrats want more time to negotiate the terms. These goals are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both. Working Americans have suffered enough from the President’s failed economic policies and shouldn’t face the uncertainty of a New Year’s Day tax hike. Leader Reid should appoint conferees on the long-term bill and the House should pass an extension that locks in the thousands of Keystone XL pipeline jobs, prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions, and allows Congress to work on a solution for the longer extensions.”
Not all of McConnell’s statement is true – the extension would not “lock in” Keystone XL pipeline jobs, it would merely force the President and State Department to make a decision on Keystone XL’s permit within 60 days (and both State and the White House have said that would lead to the denial of the permit). But McConnell is clearly calling for what Harry Reid and the White House have been calling for – pass the two-month stopgap, and then work can begin on a longer extension.
This statement comes almost minutes after John Boehner, in a press conference, announced that House Republicans would not give in on this fight, calling for a House-Senate conference to work out differences on the bill.
But the writing is on the wall here. Boehner is isolated, and giving in to the Senate demands appears like a matter of when, not if. Hardline House Republicans may need a few more days to draw this out. But with Senate Democrats, the White House and now the Republican leader in the Senate on the other side, it’s hard to see another endgame.