US House Lawmakers
Reject Senate FICA Payroll Tax Cut Bill
December 21, 2011
Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives has rejected Senate
legislation to extend a payroll tax cut for two months, leaving the
prospect that 160 million Americans will see a tax increase at the start
of the new year. The vote provoked angry responses from the White House
and Democratic legislators.
Lawmakers on Tuesday traded barbs and blamed each other in heated
debate, just days before the payroll tax cut will expire.
In a vote of 229 to 193, the House voted Tuesday to set aside the bill
and requested a formal conference with the Senate to work out the
After the vote, President Barack Obama expressed his frustration and
accused Republicans of playing politics.
"We have more important things to worry about than politics right now.
We have more important things to worry about than saving face or
figuring out internal caucus politics. We have people who are counting
on us to make their lives just a little bit easier," said Obama.
But Republicans said the House previously did its part and passed
legislation to extend the payroll tax cut for one year, while the
Senate's two-month extension offers only uncertainty and a temporary
top House Republican, Speaker John Boehner, said the Democratic-led
Senate took the easy route in the rush to leave town for the Christmas
break. He said he wants to give the average family a $1,000 tax cut for
12 months as President Obama has requested.
"I just think the American people expect us to do our work," said
Boehner. "We've got 10 days to do our work. We can resolve the
differences between the House and Senate bill. Everybody wants this
extended for a year. But it just happens to be inconvenient for some to
try to resolve it at this point. Why? Because we're getting close to the
Fellow Republican, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said the remainder of
the year could be used to come to agreement so taxes would not increase
at the beginning of the year.
"So far, the House has passed a bipartisan, year-long plan to ensure
that taxes do not go up," said Cantor. "The Senate, on the other hand,
has passed a two-month plan. According to experts, the two-month plan is
simply unworkable. Families, employers and workers can't live their
lives month-to-month. Washington needs to stop adding confusion and more
uncertainty to people's lives."
The legislation also extends unemployment payments to jobless workers
and prevents cuts in payments for health care for the elderly.
The leader of the minority Democrats in the House, Nancy Pelosi, said
the legislation is crucial. She noted it enjoyed broad support in the
Senate and charged that House Republicans never wanted the payroll tax
cut. She said that now the legislation is before them, they claim the
length of the tax cut is too short.
"Ninety percent of the Senate in a bipartisan way voted for this tax
cut," said Pelosi. "It is just the extreme Tea Party element of the
Republicans in the House of Representatives who are standing in the way
of a tax cut for 160 million Americans, unemployment benefits for
millions of Americans and Medicare opportunity for 48 million seniors."
The Senate on Saturday overwhelmingly approved the two-month extension,
and then its members left town for the holidays. Senate leaders have
indicated they will not call the chamber back into session to negotiate
a new bill on the payroll tax.