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Vote scheduled on temporary extension of payroll tax cut

Dec. 19, 2011 - 06:00AM   |  
By DAVID JACKSON, USA TODAY   |   Comments
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says the Republican majority in the House wants a year-long extension in order to build more certainty into economic planning.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says the Republican majority in the House wants a year-long extension in order to build more certainty into economic planning. (File photo / Agence France-Presse)

President Obama's aides are seeking to pressure House Republicans in the hours leading up to a vote Monday on a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, saying an adverse decision will subject nearly 160 million Americans to a tax hike next year.

"The House needs to act, or else Americans are going to have their taxes go up," by an average of about $1,000 per year per family, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. He made clear the White House would blame the Republicans as the nation approaches the 2012 election year.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, predicted the GOP majority would defeat the Senate plan for a two-month extension, saying his members want a year-long extension in order to build more certainty into economic planning.

A mere two-month extension "creates even more uncertainly for job creators," Boehner said in an interview. "It's just time for Congress to get its job done."

The House vote is scheduled for Monday night.

In his daily briefing, Carney said that the Senate approved the two-month extension plan with an 89-10 vote on Saturday, with the vast majority of Republicans in support.

Carney and other aides said Boehner turned against the two-month plan at the behest of tea party Republicans. On this issue, Carney said, "they do not represent even a majority of the Republican Party."

Boehner and GOP aides pointed out that Obama advocated a one-year extension of the payroll tax cut as recently as Saturday. He added that lawmakers can then go to a conference, "the formal process in which the House and Senate can resolve differences between the two chambers and between our two bills."

White House officials said there's not enough time to put together a deal for a one-year extension prior to the expiration of the tax cut Jan. 21; they said the one-year extension can be negotiated during the two-month extension envisioned under the Senate plan.

The Senate payroll tax cut bill also includes an extension of unemployment benefits.

One dispute revolving around the payroll tax cut is how to pay for it. House Republicans want a series of spending cuts that Democrats object to; Senate Democrats had sought a tax surcharge on millionaires, but Republicans forced them to drop that plan from the Senate bill.

Democrats called the two-month extension a stop-gap, and that they will work with Republicans on a year-long extension after lawmakers return to work in January.

If the House does reject the Senate plan, there will be some good news for Obama. The bill includes a provision requiring the president to issue a permit for a controversial oil pipeline, or explain why it is not in the national interest. While Republicans cast the Keystone XL oil pipeline as a jobs and energy program, Obama says the project requires more environmental study.

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