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2chambers
Posted at 10:46 AM ET, 12/15/2011

Pew poll may be a warning for congressional Republicans in payroll tax fight


(Cliff Owen - AP)

As House Republicans mull their options in the payroll tax/government shutdown debacle – and potentially move forward with a plan to pass a funding resolution and then head out of town – a new Pew poll released Thursday morning may give them pause.

Fifty percent of those surveyed by Pew said that they believe the 112th Congress has accomplished less than other Congresses – and of those saying this Congress has been unproductive, 40 percent say Republican leaders bear most of the blame. Thirty-two percent said leaders of both parties are equally at fault, and 23 percent said Democratic leaders are more to blame.

Republicans also do not fare well when it comes to the public’s perceptions of the GOP’s ability to work together with Democrats. Fifty-three percent of respondents in the Pew poll said the Republican Party is “more extreme” than the Democratic Party in its positions; 51 percent said that Democrats are more willing to work together with the other side; 41 percent viewed Democrats as better able to manage the government; and 45 percent called the Democratic Party “more honest and ethical.”

The numbers suggest that the political brinksmanship that has marked the debt and spending fights throughout the current Congress has taken a political toll on both parties, but particularly on the Republican brand.

The Pew survey comes as Republicans early Thursday morning unveiled an appropriations measure that leaders are considering trying to move through the House with GOP support alone, as Democrats have sought to wield Friday’s midnight deadline for a government shutdown to gain leverage in a separate fight over the payroll tax holiday. The House Rules Committee is slated to hold a meeting later Thursday on the measures, suggesting that a vote may be on the horizon.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) opened up the Senate floor Thursday morning with brief, optimistic remarks – a departure from Wednesday, when the two leaders sparred openly and bitterly for the better part of half an hour.

Reid said the two leaders had been in negotiations and that he hoped they would be able to work out a resolution that would “get us out of here ... in the next few days.”

Even so, House Republicans on Wednesday night appeared to be gearing up for a battle with Senate Democrats and the White House, which has called for lawmakers to pass a stop-gap funding measure to ensure the government doesn’t shut down.

Freshman Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) said after Wednesday’s conference meeting that Republicans were planning on “going on the offense” and had discussed moving forward on the omnibus spending bill with GOP support alone and then potentially heading out of town to leave the Senate to deal with both House-passed measures.

“You’ve got the deadline running out at Friday at midnight, so we act, we do our job, we send it over there, and this fundamentally boils down to one thing: the fact that the Senate hasn’t done their job, and now we’re doing all of our work, getting it done,” Reed said. “There’s no reason for us to sit here and wait for the Senate to do their job.”

By  |  10:46 AM ET, 12/15/2011

 
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