Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

House Passes GOP Payroll Tax Plan

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Speaker John Boehner and other House GOP leaders praised tonight’s bipartisan vote to approve their chamber’s plan to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits.

Ignoring a veto threat from the president and a promise that the Senate would shoot it down, the House passed a GOP plan to extend the payroll tax cut and other expiring provisions this evening.

The measure passed 234-193, with 10 Democrats voting for it and 14 Republicans voting against.

Following the vote, Speaker John Boehner poked fun at the White House’s use of a prop countdown clock, which Democrats used to pressure Republicans on the payroll tax issue.

“The White House needs to update their clock because now it’s time for the Senate to act,” the Ohio Republican told reporters.

His message was echoed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

“We got a strong bipartisan vote in there,” the Virginia Republican said while leaving the House chamber. “My question for the president is, ‘Why are we waiting?’ Demonstrating here there’s bipartisan support for this bill, he ought to go ahead and join us. It’s time for him to compromise.”

Controversial measures tacked onto the bill all but ensure that the package will languish in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the floor less than an hour after the vote to declare the House Republican plan “dead on arrival.”

The Nevada Democrat had attempted to hold an immediate Senate vote to kill the GOP bill but could not get Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to agree to it.

Aides in both parties suggested they were waiting for the House to pass its bill before making a decisive next step, meaning that backroom negotiations may now begin in earnest.

Senate Democrats have talked about releasing their own counteroffer, discussing options at their weekly caucus lunch, but it was unclear tonight whether they would do that.

Time is running short for both parties to find agreement now that the White House and Senate Democrats have linked final passage of a sweeping omnibus agreement to the bill. The current government funding bill expires Friday.

The House-passed bill would extend the temporary payroll tax holiday, extend unemployment benefits and fix the Medicare reimbursement for doctors for two years.

Although Democrats have sought these extensions, they object to certain reforms to the unemployment insurance system and the fact that the “doc fix” is paid for by cuts to President Barack Obama’s health care reform, among other things.

Democrats most vocally objected to the inclusion of a measure that would force Obama to fast-track a decision on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, a measure that they say is not germane.

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