Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said today that House Republicans oppose the Senate bill to extend for two months the payroll tax holiday and other measures, setting up a major legislative clash a week before Christmas.
A day after the Senate approved a hard-fought compromise and then adjourned for the year, the Speaker made clear in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that House Republicans will put forward their own bill instead. The House is set to reconvene Monday and could vote on the Senate bill and a House counterproposal by Tuesday.
“It’s pretty clear that I and our Members oppose the Senate bill,” Boehner said. “How can you do tax policy for two months? We believe it’s time for the Senate to work with the House to complete our business for the year.”
Boehner suggested the House and Senate could resolve their differences in a Conference Committee if the Senate declines to support the path forward favored by House Republicans. The legislation involves an extension of the payroll tax holiday, set to expire Dec. 31; continuing unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless; and stopping a scheduled pay cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients.
Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have dueled over how to pay for the payroll tax holiday and proposed GOP reforms to the unemployment insurance program. Republicans and President Barack Obama have been at odds over whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a decision the president postponed until after the 2012 elections.
In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans reached a deal to extend all benefits for two months while forcing Obama to either approve or reject the Keystone pipeline at the end of the same period. They voted Saturday morning and then left town until Jan. 23. But House Republicans, meeting via conference call later in the day, voiced opposition to the Senate bill, potentially setting up a major clash.
“I believe that two months is just kicking the can down the road,” Boehner said. “It’s time to just stop, do our work, resolve our differences and extend this for one year.”
Interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Roy Blunt noted that the Senate version of the bill would prevent an increase in the payroll tax, cuts to Medicare payments and reductions to unemployment insurance.
“Nobody wants any of these things to happen, so I believe this will be worked out in a way that doesn’t raise taxes,” the Missouri Republican said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.