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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.

Obama’s objection to the bill galvanized some Republicans who would not have otherwise voted for the bill.

Rep. Jeff Landry, who earlier this month introduced a payroll tax cut extension bill of his own, said he would not normally have supported this version of the extension.

“At the end of the day, the fact that we’ve got at least something in there to pay for it is good,” the Louisiana Republican said. “We’ve got real reform on unemployment insurance and the Keystone pipeline in there. And the fact that the president said he’d veto it really made me want to vote for it.”

House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) was particularly acerbic in his attacks on the White House, charging that Obama was “finding an excuse to pick a fight, seemingly so he could run against the House.”

Other Republicans voted against the measure on objections that the bill was too unwieldy.

Rep. Jeff Flake, who is running for the Senate, voted against the bill because he said it would add to the deficit.

“The deficit, we just exploded it. [The bill] adds to it big time,” the Arizona Republican said. “We talked and talked and talked about cutting spending, and when we feel it important to send a message on some rider or whatever else, in the end, we just pile on more debt.”

Rep. Timothy Johnson (R) also voted against it, saying it would not be favorable for people in the newly redrawn Illinois district that he is running for, which is more Democrat-friendly than his old district.

“Given the magnitude and size of the bill, I thought it was better to err on the side of what I think is better public policy, and I think we can do a lot better than that,” he said.

The Democrats who voted for the bill were mostly fiscally conservative Blue Dogs who followed suit after Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.) became the first Democrat to announce earlier this week that he would vote for the bill.

Before the vote, Democrats forced a vote on a motion to recommit on an alternate version of the payroll tax bill that would have included a tax increase on millionaires and provisions of the much-publicized STOCK Act, which aims to curb insider trading among Members of Congress. The measure failed.

John Stanton contributed to this report.

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