Speaker John Boehner demands conference on payroll tax cut extension

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday morning predicted the Republican-led House would reject the Democratic-led Senate's payroll tax cut extension bill later in the day, suggesting the only path forward is to call back the Senate to work out differences between the House and Senate's competing legislation.

Boehner said during a press conference that he doesn't believe the House and Senate bills "are that great."

"It's time to stop the nonsense," he said. "We can resolve these differences."

Boehner is currently pushing for a year-long extension of the payroll tax cut-- which expires Dec. 31 and would cost the average middle-class family an additional $1,000 in taxes 2012 if it's not in place. The bill offered by Senate Democrats and passed by the full Senate this weekend extends the tax cut for just two months.

Democrats are trying to "kick the can down the road" yet again, Boehner contended. "

Why do we always have to go to the lowest common denominator?"

Calling a House-Senate conference poses some logistical challenges, since senators have already left Washington for holiday recess, after they had passed an omnibus bill averting a government shutdown and moving through their preferred version of the payroll tax cut legislation.

The Senate voted 89-10 Saturday to extend the 4.2 percent payroll tax rate for an two additional months. A total of 39 Republicans voted in support of the bill-- including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)-- and 7 Republicans voted against it. That bill also included additional items on Congress' agenda: extending long-term unemployment benefits and preventing a cut in to doctors' Medicare reimbursements.

Read more about what Congress hopes to accomplish before the end of the year here.

Republican House members are vowing to remain in Washington this week to work on payroll tax cut legislation and the other items contained in the Senate bill.

"The House will stay in DC this week to do the work we promised to do. Job creators are fed up with uncertainty and short-term gimmicks," Arizona Republican Rep. Ben Quayle tweeted during Boehner's press conference.

Meanwhile, Democratic aides indicated that Democratic senators aren't willing to return to Washington and bow to pressure from Boehner to rework their bill.

Boehner said Monday he never expressed support for a two-month extension--versus the year-long payroll tax-cut extension that House Republicans prefer.

Senate Democrats say that's not in fact the case--issuing statement that stress past occasions when Boehner expressed support for the terms of the Senate compromise. Democrats claim that opposition to the Senate package from Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) changed Boehner's mind.

Boehner said Monday he "raised concerns" from the start when the two-month extension was proposed.

Update 12:01 p.m. ET: Not all Republicans are supporting Boehner's pushback. Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who faces a difficult re-election bid against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, on Monday condemned Boehner's plan. Brown said the following in a statement:

The House Republicans' plan to scuttle the deal to help middle-class families is irresponsible and wrong. I appreciate their effort to extend these measures for a full year, but a two-month extension is a good deal when it means we avoid jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of American families. The refusal to compromise now threatens to increase taxes on hard-working Americans and stop unemployment benefits for those out of work. During this time of divided government, both parties need to be reasonable and come to the negotiating table in good faith. We cannot allow rigid partisan ideology and unwillingness to compromise stand in the way of working together for the good of the American people.

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