House Republicans’ plan to couple an extension of the payroll tax holiday with a measure that would speed up a decision on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline will pass “with bipartisan support,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) predicted Monday.
The measure, unveiled by House leaders last week, will be on the floor Tuesday.
“I do believe it’s going to pass with bipartisan support, and when it comes to jobs, the American people can’t wait, so we’re going to take action,” Boehner said at a Monday night news conference at the Capitol.
So far, only one Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.), has publicly come out in support of the GOP plan.
As both sides remain deadlocked on how to pay for the payroll tax cut extension, one option available to the House is to pass the GOP leaders’ version of the payroll tax holiday and then leave town after approving an omnibus appropriations bill later this week. That would leave it up to the Senate to decide how to proceed on the measure.
Boehner declined to say Monday what the House plans to do beyond passing both measures.
“I believe it’s important that we enact both the payroll tax (holiday) and the omnibus appropriations bill to fund our government,” Boehner said. “So, I believe it’s important that both of those pass and that they’re signed into law.”
Boehner also pushed back against President Obama’s threat to reject any legislation that pairs the payroll tax holiday extension with other measures, arguing that the Keystone pipeline “is exactly the description of the kind of jobs plan that the president says he wants to enact.”
“The only thing arbitrary about this decision is the decision by the president to say, ‘Well, let’s wait until after the next election,’ ” Boehner said in response to a statement by the State Department on Monday warning that a push by Congress to enact an “arbitrary deadline” on the pipeline decision would sink the project.
Asked what the House might do if the Senate were to send over a version of the payroll tax cut extension that was paid for with Democrats’ “millionaire surtax,” Boehner responded with a rhyme he has often used when fielding hypothetical questions from reporters.
“If ‘ands’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas,” he said. “Bye.”