“It’s the way this place works,” Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (Ky.) said. “House passes a bill, Senate passes a bill, go to conference.”
Rep. Jeff Flake said there was some disagreement about whether a vote on the Senate bill is necessary.
“There’s some question about do you have to defeat the Senate bill, can’t you just appoint conferees based on the bill we already passed, so a lot of disagreement about that,” the Arizona Republican said, adding that “you had all kinds” of viewpoints expressed during the lengthy conference meeting.
“We’re going to do the right thing the right way, and we’re going to make it absolutely clear this is a 12-month tax cut for the American people, and that’s it,” freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said following the Conference meeting.
Rep. Jeff Landry agreed, declaring a two-month payroll tax extension “bad policy.”
“Y’all need to call the Senate and ask them why they want to inject that kind of uncertainty into the American family,” the Louisiana Republican said, speaking in favor of the measure that cleared the House last week.
“What we sent was a very responsible bill, and [the Senate] turned around and said no, it’s not good,” Landry said. “The president said he wanted a year, the president said he wanted a year. The House is giving the president what he wants and the Senate doesn’t?”
As the legislation moved into the House Rules Committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released a statement calling on Boehner to allow an up-or-down vote on the Senate compromise that he said he has worked for weeks to broker.
“It is time for Speaker Boehner to follow through,” the Nevada Democrat said. “Senator McConnell said that our bill is ‘designed to pass,’ and I was encouraged to see courageous Republicans in both the House and Senate speak out against Speaker Boehner’s decision to put politics ahead of middle-class Americans’ economic security.”
House Democratic leaders also ripped Boehner in a news conference, highlighting the divide between House and Senate Republicans and blasting the GOP for what they charged was intransigence on the issue.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi vowed not to appoint conferees for any conference committee on the legislation and said Republicans were actually working against extending the payroll tax cut.
“It’s like the fiancé, a man courting a woman, and she says to him: ‘Really, I’d love to marry you. I’ll marry you on Feb. 30.’ Well, that day’s never coming,” Pelosi said. “What we see now is stalling action.”
Jessica Brady and Jonathan Strong contributed to this report.
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.