The White House, meanwhile, urged House Republicans to “do the right thing” and pass the bill already approved by nearly 90 percent of senators, including 83 percent of the chamber’s Republicans.
Boehner (R-Ohio) said Monday morning that the House is poised to defeat the Senate-passed bill to extend the payroll tax cut for two months because the measure “creates uncertainty” for the U.S. economy. Instead, he said the House would send the bill to a bicameral conference committee. Boehner on Sunday began retreating from his previous support for the package because of opposition from conservative Republicans.
“I expect that the House will disagree with the Senate amendment and instead vote to formally go to conference,” Boehner said at news conference as House members were returning to Capitol Hill from a weekend recess.
Two hours later, Reid hit back, saying that negotiations were over. He said the House has two options: Accept the bipartisan compromise he worked out with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) or allow taxes to rise next month.
“Senator McConnell and I negotiated a compromise at Speaker Boehner’s request,” Reid said. “I will not reopen negotiations until the House follows through and passes this agreement that was negotiated by Republican leaders and supported by 90 percent of the Senate.”
He said negotiations for extending the tax cut for a full year should continue in January. But, for now, Reid said, both chambers should adopt the two-month deal.
“My House colleagues should be clear on what their vote means today,” he said. “If Republicans vote down the bipartisan compromise negotiated by Republican and Democratic leaders, and passed by 89 senators including 39 Republicans, their intransigence will mean that in 10 days, 160 million middle-class Americans will see a tax increase, over 2 million Americans will begin losing their unemployment benefits, and millions of senior citizens on Medicare could find it harder to receive treatment from physicians.”
Reid said Boehner “should not walk away from” the negotiated compromise, “putting middle-class families at risk of a thousand-dollar tax hike just because a few angry Tea Partiers raised their voices to the speaker.”
In a White House news briefing, press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that Boehner had urged fellow House Republicans to support the Senate measure. “So he was for it before he was against it,” Carney said.