President Barack Obama said Wednesday he would reject any package to extend the payroll tax holiday that attached “extraneous” provisions, including approval of a controversial oil pipeline between Canada and the United States.
House Republicans have been discussing the inclusion of several unrelated provisions to a year-end bill in order to win more favor among their diverse conference.
“If the payroll tax cut is attached to a whole bunch of extraneous issues not related to making sure that Americans’ taxes don’t go up on Jan. 1, it’s not something I would accept,” Obama said, in a media appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Obama specifically noted he would reject “any effort to tie Keystone to the payroll tax cut,” adding that, “everybody can be on notice."
Obama added, "The question is going to be: Are they willing to vote against a proposal that ensures that Americans, at a time when the recovery is still fragile, don't see their taxes go up by $1,000? So it shouldn't be held hostage for any other issues that they may be concerned about. And so my warning is not just specific to Keystone. Efforts to tie a whole bunch of other issues to something that they should be doing anyway will be rejected by me."
A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded that Republicans are working to extend the tax holiday and that the conference was prepared to fight the administration on a package that achieved the extensions while also including add-ons.
“We are working on a bill to stop a tax hike, protect Social Security, reform unemployment insurance and create jobs,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said. “If President Obama threatens to veto it over a provision that creates American jobs, that’s a fight we’re ready to have.”
Senate Republicans, for their part, were quick to point out support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Senate Democrats whose states would benefit from the opening of the pipeline, from the two Senators from Montana to Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Mark Begich (Alaska).
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.