Payroll tax cut: No vacation for Senate until there’s a deal


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (L) holds up a copy of today's Washington Post during a news conference about extending the payroll tax cut with US Sen. Robert Casey and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin at the US Capitol on Dec. 7, 2011.


Chip Somodevilla

US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that the Senate won’t break for the holidays until Republicans and Democrats reach an agreement on extending the payroll tax cut.

“We’re not going to leave town until it’s complete,” Reid said at a press conference today in Washington, DC, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. “We can do it the easy way or we can do it the hard way.”

Reid also said that President Barack Obama won’t fly to Hawaii for vacation until Congress deals with the payroll tax holiday, Politico reported. Obama is currently scheduled to leave Washington, DC, on Dec. 17.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters after the press conference that Obama might ask the House to return to Washington if they adjourned without a payroll tax cut agreement, Politico reported. “What the president made clear was … that the House would leave at its peril, its political peril, and they will face the embarrassment of trying to explain why they’re taking the holiday off while working families across America are going to see their taxes increase,” Durbin said.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported:

Reid’s comments today reflect the confidence among Democrats that they have the upper hand in the debate over extending the payroll tax cut before it expires Dec. 31. Reid filed a motion that sets up a Dec. 9 procedural vote for a Democratic proposal for extending the tax cut for 2012.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, indicated today that Republicans haven’t yet decided what they’ll need in order to support a payroll tax cut extension, ABC News reported.

“There’s a lot of debate about how best to do this,” Boehner said. “The concern about the payroll tax cut is … that we’re taking money out of the Social Security trust fund.”

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, House leaders are considering adding language that speeds up the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and weakening proposed regulations on emissions by industrial boilers.

If Congress does not agree on a payroll tax cut extension by Dec. 31, economists say about 160 million Americans would see a $1,000 tax increase, ABC News reported.

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