House GOP Rejects 2-Month Payroll Tax Cut [VIDEO]
The House has rejected a plan to extend a Social Security payroll tax cut for two months, and Republican members are instead demanding that the Senate return to negotiate an extension for the entire year.
Lawmakers voted 229-193 to send the measure back to the Senate.
But Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will not allow any bargaining until the Republicans relent and the House approves the short-term bipartisan measure which passed the Senate with an overwhelming majority. President Barack Obama has voiced support for the legislation, but has also said it needs to be quickly extended to cover all of 2012.
- INTERACTIVE: Senate Vs. The House
The House passed a full-year extension last week, but included many spending cuts opposed by Democrats. Republican members erupted in frustration at the Senate measure, which drops changes to the unemployment insurance system that conservatives wanted along with cuts to Obama's health care law.
Lawmakers are looking to renew a 2 percentage point cut in the Social Security payroll tax, plus jobless benefits averaging about $300 a week for the long-term unemployed. The impasse could mean a tax hike for 160 million American workers in January, while almost 2 million people could lose their unemployment benefits.
President Barack Obama says a bipartisan compromise reached by the Senate is the "only viable way" to prevent a tax increase on Jan. 1.
In a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room on Tuesday, the president said a "faction" of Republicans in the House is refusing to vote on a Senate bill that would extend a payroll tax cut for two months.
Obama said, "The clock is ticking. Time is running out." The president said House Republicans are trying to "wring concessions" from Democrats on issues that "have nothing to do with the payroll tax cut."
Obama says lawmakers owe it to the American people "to come together and do the right thing."
House Speaker John Boehner says it's time for President Barack Obama to help end Congress' impasse over renewing the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits.
The Ohio Republican said Tuesday that he wants Obama to call on the Democratic-led Senate to return to Washington and bargain with the House over a compromise plan. He said at a news conference, "I need the president to help out."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)