Speaker John Boehner (above) seemed to be aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the payroll tax cut package the Senate passed Saturday, but on Sunday Boehner called the two-month deal kicking the can down the road.
House Republicans opened the door for Democrats to rehash their favorite narratives, including that the tea party bloc in the GOP has overpowered the establishment’s ability to govern. And it likely was a welcome opportunity, given that many Senate Democrats had been frustrated both that a longer deal could not be reached and that the strategies employed by leadership of part of its endgame – including threatening to hold up a sweeping $1 trillion omnibus spending bill – made them appear to be threatening a government shutdown.
“This is a test of whether the House Republicans are fit to govern, and it is a make-or-break moment for John Boehner’s speakership,” said Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.). “You cannot let a small group at the extreme resort to brinksmanship every time there is a major national issue and try to dictate every move this nation makes.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi joined the chorus Sunday, calling on Boehner to bring the Senate’s bill to the floor “immediately.”
“By holding up this bipartisan compromise, Tea Party House Republicans are walking away once again, showing their extremism and clearly demonstrating that they never intended to give the middle class a tax cut,” the California Democrat said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.