Congress proving once again they are the gift that keeps on giving. The GOP-controlled House today rejected a deal to extend payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits for two months. This afternoon, House members voted to go to conference in a 229 to 193 vote – seven Republicans voted with the Democrats, but no Dems voted with the GOP majority. The House did not vote on the bipartisan Senate compromise, passed overwhelmingly with 89 votes.Through this maneuvering, GOP lawmakers were able to avoid an on-record vote against a tax cut — which not coincidentally would be a violation of the pledge most of them have taken to anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist.
Right after the vote, President Obama pressed Republican leaders to put aside their issues and take an up or down vote.
"The House Republicans say they don't dispute the need for a payroll tax cut. What they're really trying to do, what they're holding out for, is to wring concessions from Democrats on issues that have nothing to do with the payroll tax cut, issues where the parties fundamentally disagree," said Obama, who made a surprise cameo in the White House briefing.
Both sides are pressuring the other to act first. House Speaker John Boehner said, "now, it's up to the president to show real leadership."
Not all Republican are siding with Boehner. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown said, "It angers me that House Republicans would rather continue playing politics than find solutions. Their actions will hurt American families and be detrimental to our fragile economy."
The Republican leadership urged Senate Democrats to join Republicans in passing a one-year bill to extend payroll tax cuts.