House Blocks Senate Bill on Payroll Tax Cut

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The House today registered its disapproval of a bill that won strong bipartisan support in the Senate to extend long-term unemployment benefits and a Social Security payroll tax cut.

The Senate legislation would continue the tax cut and unemployment benefits through February, giving lawmakers more time to negotiate one-year extensions. The bill also would postpone a scheduled reduction in Medicare payments to doctors.

Today the House voted 229-193 on a procedural motion that prevented an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill and calls for a House-Senate conference committee. Democrats, however, had indicated they were not interested in further negotiations over the Senate bill.

The $30 billion cost of the two-month extensions in the Senate’s legislation would be paid for primarily with increased mortgage fees and premiums.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell negotiated the bill last week. It passed on an 89-10 vote Saturday with McConnell and most other Senate Republicans supporting it.

The Senate then went into a recess on the widespread assumption that House approval of the bill would quickly follow.  Since then, however, Speaker John Boehner and other House Republicans have called on the Senate to return to Washington to focus again on negotiating a plan that would be in effect through the end of 2012.

Reid has scoffed at this suggestion, saying he had negotiated the Senate deal “at Speaker Boehner’s request” and that Democrats would not re-open negotiations on a long-term measure “until the House follows through and passes this agreement.” House and Senate Republicans are also criticizing each other over the issue.

External links:
Democrats’ Summary of Senate Bill
Monday Statement by Speaker John Boehner
White House Blog Post on Extending the Payroll Tax Cut

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