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Posted at 11:47 AM ET, 12/11/2011

Keystone pipeline ‘probably not going to sell,’ Graham says


(Jonathan Ernst - GETTY IMAGES)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) predicted Sunday that Congress will pass an extension of the payroll tax holiday before the month is out, but that neither the Democrat-favored “millionaire surtax” nor a GOP-backed provision on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline will be included in the final deal.

“At the end of the day, the payroll tax (holiday) will get extended as it is now,” Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It won’t get expanded; it’ll get extended, and we’ll find a way to pay for it in a bipartisan fashion. This idea of taxing one group to pay for a tax cut for another is not going to sell. The pipeline’s probably not going to sell. And it is important that we extend the tax cut through next year, but it’s even more important that we come up with sustainable policies that will turn American around.”

Graham’s remarks came shortly after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted Sunday morning that the House Republican plan coupling a payroll tax cut extension with a measure aimed at speeding up a decision on the Keystone pipeline would garner “significant” support among Democrats.

Graham, who was among the 26 Senate Republicans voting against McConnell’s plan earlier this month to pay for the payroll tax holiday by extending the current pay freeze for federal workers and reducing government benefits for the wealthy, on Sunday expressed tentative support for the House GOP plan.

“I think the House’s package that does extend the payroll tax cuts has a lot of things I would support like the pipeline, the ‘doc fix’ and the Boiler MACT regulatory reform,” he said, referring to a provision to prevent a cut in reimbursements to doctors who see Medicare patients and a measure that would delay Environmental Protection Agency regulations on industrial boilers.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), appearing on “Meet the Press” with Graham, called the payroll tax debate “a clear defining moment, a contrast between the parties” and said that extending the tax holiday is “the highest priority of the president and Democrats in Congress.”

“We’re talking about a payroll tax cut for almost 160 million Americans, and what it comes down to for the average Illinoisan is about $1,000 a year,” Durbin said. “If Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cut, it’s a new tax, an added tax next year for average working people.”

By  |  11:47 AM ET, 12/11/2011

 
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