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Posted at 10:21 AM ET, 12/11/2011

GOP payroll tax plan will get ‘significant’ Democratic support, McConnell says


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday predicted the payroll tax package unveiled by House Republicans on Friday will receive “pretty strong support among a lot of Democrats in the Senate.”

“There are a significant number of Democratic senators and House members who are going to support this package,” McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This has bipartisan support.”

Amid opposition from rank-and-file members to a payroll tax holiday extension, House Republican leaders have crafted a plan that couples an additional year of the tax cut with provisions including a measure aimed at speeding up a decision by the Obama administration on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

Republicans point to the fact that 47 House Democrats in July backed a similar measure as an indication that the GOP proposal will secure support from both sides of the aisle. They also note that groups such as the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters have voiced support for the Keystone pipeline.

But Democratic leaders have called the bill a non-starter, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday told reporters that the Keystone provision is “a poison pill designed to sink the payroll tax (holiday).” The measure is expected to come up for a House vote early this week, setting up a potential showdown in the Senate before the week is out.

Asked by host Chris Wallace whether Congress might allow the payroll tax cut to expire at the end of the month, McConnell said “that isn’t going to happen, and obviously, we’ll reach an agreement.”

“The president is posturing here,” McConnell said. “He’d have to stand up to the AFL-CIO. I’m on the same side as Jimmy Hoffa and the AFL-CIO on this. The Teamsters and the AFL-CIO want the Keystone pipeline; want it now. Look, the president’s been talking about creating jobs; this is ready to go immediately. All it requires is his sign-off.”

Earlier this month, a payroll tax plan put forward by McConnell was opposed by a majority of members of his own conference: 26 Senate Republicans voted “no,” while 20 voted “yes.”

Asked whether he thinks his conference will line up behind the House Republican plan, McConnell argued that the House plan includes provisions such as the Keystone pipeline measure that may win over reluctant lawmakers.

“Well, there’ll be another package put together that I think many of them will find much more attractive because of the additional pay-fors and job-creating elements that I’ve been describing to you that we have put in the package that will come over from the House I believe on a bipartisan basis,” McConnell said.

By  |  10:21 AM ET, 12/11/2011

 
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