By a vote of 229–193, the House of Representatives rejected the Senate’s two-month extension of the payroll-tax holiday — set to expire at the end of the year — and will now move to appoint members to a bicameral conference committee in the hope of forging a compromise with the Senate on a full-year extension.
However, doing so would require Democrats to play along. The Senate has already adjourned for the year, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has refused to enter negotiations with House Republicans unless they pass the Senate bill. Furthermore, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has said she will not make any Democratic appointments to a conference committee.
House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) called on President Obama, who himself has called for a year-long extension of the payroll-tax holiday, to urge Reid and Senate Democrats to return to Washington in order to finalize a deal.
“You have said many times that Congress must do its work before taking vacation,” Boehner wrote in a letter on Tuesday. “Because we agree, our negotiators and the House stand ready to work through the holidays. I ask you to call on the Senate to return to appoint negotiators so that we can provide the American people the economic certainty they need. The American people need leadership, Mr. President.”
To be continued . . .
UPDATE: President Obama doesn’t appear to be willing to negotiate, either, telling reporters at the White House today that the Senate’s two-month extension “is the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on January 1st — the only one.”