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Posted at 11:01 AM ET, 12/22/2011

McConnell to Boehner: Time to come in from the cold

If this doesn’t break the logjam, nothing will: Senator Mitch McConnell is now calling on John Boehner to come in from the cold and pass the Senate payroll tax extension plan. The statement:

“The House and Senate have both passed bipartisan bills to require the President to quickly make a decision on whether to support thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs through the Keystone XL pipeline, and to extend unemployment insurance, the temporary payroll tax cut and seniors’ access to medical care. There is no reason why Congress and the President cannot accomplish all of these things before the end of the year. House Republicans sensibly want greater certainty about the duration of these provisions, while Senate Democrats want more time to negotiate the terms. These goals are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both.
“Working Americans have suffered enough from the President’s failed economic policies and shouldn’t face the uncertainty of a New Year’s Day tax hike. Leader Reid should appoint conferees on the long-term bill and the House should pass an extension that locks in the thousands of Keystone XL pipeline jobs, prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions, and allows Congress to work on a solution for the longer extensions.”

What this means: McConnell has now explicitly endorsed the compromise that Senate Dems have been offering House Republicans: You pass the Senate two-month extension; and we’ll enter into talks over how to compromise on the year-long extension you want. Coming from McConnell, this statement knocks the legs out from under the primary House Republican argument: That we must not pass the two-month extension, because we need to pass a year-long one for the sake of “certainty” to the American people. As McConnell sensibly points out, these two things are not “mutually exclusive.”

This statement again underscores just how isolated House Republicans have become in this fight. Earlier this morning, House GOPers held a press conference in the Capitol to dig in further. As Chris Van Hollen put it a few moments ago at a subsequent presser, the only people that don’t want the Senate bill passed are the House Republicans who held that presser today. That the Republican Senate leader issued his statement calling on House Republicans to acquiesce to the Dem approach only moments after they mounted their last stand of sorts only reinforces that picture.

More in a bit.

UPDATE: Asked if McConnell’s statement changes the equation for House Republicans, Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said No.

“The House and Senate have two different bills, but the same goal. That is why we believe, as Senator McConnell suggested, the two chambers should work to reconcile the two bills so that we can provide a full year of payroll tax relief — and do it before year’s end,” Buck said.

By  |  11:01 AM ET, 12/22/2011

 
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