President Barack Obama today renewed his call on the House to pass a short-term extension of the payroll tax holiday and jobless benefits, and he used a compromise proffered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to try to boost his message.
The president, flanked by people he said would be adversely affected if the payroll tax cut ends in January or if unemployment benefits are not extended, gave the midday statement at the White House.
“Enough is enough. The people standing with me can’t afford any more games. They can’t afford to lose $1,000 because of some ridiculous Washington standoff,” Obama said. “The House needs to pass a short-term version of this compromise, and then we can negotiate an agreement as quickly as possible to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for the rest of 2012.”
“This is not just my view,” Obama continued. “Just a few hours ago this is exactly what the Republican leader of the Senate said we should do. Democrats agree with the Republican leader of the Senate.”
McConnell released a statement earlier today saying that the House should pass the Senate’s two-month extension bill and that the Senate should accede to House GOP demands that they appoint conferees to come to an agreement on a yearlong extension. McConnell indicated in that statement that more time is needed to work out the details of a yearlong deal to extend the payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits and Medicare reimbursement rates.
Meanwhile, the White House is continuing its campaign to collect emails and letters from lower- and middle-class Americans on how they would spend the extra $40 per month accrued from the payroll tax holiday.
However, Obama and McConnell’s appeals appeared to be met with more resistance from the House.
Before Obama spoke, House GOP Members huddled in Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office following McConnell’s statement. Leaving the meeting, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said the House Republicans’ position remained exactly the same. “We continue to believe that the differences need to be worked out in a conference committee,” he said.
Price declined to discuss potential compromise offers, including McConnell’s. “We’re not going to negotiate with ourselves, as the Speaker said this morning,” he said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.