Boehner: House won't approve 2-mo payroll tax cut

AP Photo

The House intends to vote down a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut that cleared the Senate late last week, Speaker John Boehner said Monday, and request immediate negotiations on a full-year renewal that can provide “certainty for people who are trying to create jobs.”

“I don't believe the differences between the House and Senate are that great,” Boehner said at a news conference, although he provided no estimate on how long it might take to produce a compromise.

Without action by Congress, both the payroll tax cut and a program for long-term unemployment benefits will expire on Jan. 1.

Boehner spoke after a chaotic weekend in which Senate leaders first failed to agree on a full-year bill, then coalesced around the two-month-extension that passed overwhelmingly, only to spark a revolt among GOP conservatives in the House.

There was no immediate reaction from either the White House or leaders in the Senate, which adjourned for the year shortly after approving its version of the bill.

The revolt of the rank and file placed Boehner and Republicans in a difficult position, just as it appeared they had outmaneuvered President Barack Obama by assuring that the legislation would require him to make a swift decision on construction of a proposed oil pipeline. He had announced he would put off the issue until after the presidential election in 2012 rather than decide the fate of a project that divided normal Democratic allies, environmentalists opposed and several labor unions in favor.

In a television interview shortly before Boehner's news conference, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer accused Boehner of reversing his position on the two-month measure because of a “tea party revolt, and warned that failure to pass legislation could result in higher taxes on 160 million workers.

But Boehner said that was not the case. “I raised concerns about the two-month process from the moment I heard about it,” he said.

He called on members of the Senate to “put their vacations on hold” and return to forge a compromise.

Obama has said repeatedly Congress should not quit for the year until the tax cut has been extended.

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