“Well, it’s pretty clear that I and our members oppose the Senate bill,” Boehner said. “It’s only for two months. You know, the president said we shouldn’t go on vacation until we get our work done. And frankly, House Republicans agree.”
Boehner’s comments came a day after the Senate agreed to a two-month extension in a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits that will expire Jan. 1, top priorities for President Obama and congressional Democrats.
The White House and congressional Democrats responded that if the House does not proceed on the compromise that overwhelmingly passed the Senate, Republicans will be to blame.
“If House Republicans refuse to pass this bipartisan bill to extend the payroll tax cut, there will be a significant tax increase on 160 million hardworking Americans in 13 days that would damage the economy and job growth,” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement. “After months of opposition, we are glad that Republicans were finally showing a willingness to not raise taxes on middle class families.”
Pfeiffer added that the White House believes Congress must continue working toward a one-year deal but that lawmakers “should pass the two month extension now to avoid a devastating tax hike from hitting the middle class in just 13 days.”
Reid noted in a statement that Boehner last week requested that he and McConnell work together on a compromise.
“I would hate to think that Speaker Boehner is refusing to act on this bipartisan compromise because he is afraid it will actually pass, but I cannot imagine any other reason why he would not bring it up for a vote. . . .Neither side got everything they wanted, but we forged a middle ground that passed the Senate by an overwhelming bipartisan majority,” Reid said.
Boehner called the House-passed measure a “reasonable, responsible bill” and contended that the two-month deal would bring uncertainty to the economy.
“If you talk to employers, they talk about the uncertainty,” he said. “How can you do tax policy for two months? So, we really do believe it’s time for the Senate to work with the House, to complete our business for the year. We’ve got two weeks to get this done. Let’s do it the right way.”
Asked whether House Republicans might attempt to totally rework the bill when they return to Washington on Monday, Boehner said the measure should be negotiated by a bipartisan, bicameral conference committee just as the nearly $1 trillion government funding measure that passed both chambers late last week was.