House passes payroll tax cut extension


U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) speaks as (L-R) Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) listen after a Republican Conference meeting on Capitol Hill on Dec. 13, 2011.


Alex Wong

The Republican-controlled House has passed a bill that will keep a payroll tax cut for another year, The Associated Press reported. However, the bill also includes a plan to speed up government approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which Democrats oppose, so it is expected that the Senate will reject it on Wednesday.

The White House said President Barack Obama will veto the bill if it reaches his desk, CNN reported.

The vote was 234-193, mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor of the bill, the AP reported.

In addition to extending the payroll tax holiday, the bill renews unemployment assistance, although it reduces the maximum length of jobless benefits from 99 weeks to 59 weeks, CNN reported.

According to CNN:

To pay for the bill, GOP leaders use a series of spending cuts, including freezing pay for federal employees and members of Congress, eliminating a child tax credit for those in the United States illegally, and increasing Medicare premiums for those who earn more than $80,000 annually.

On Monday, House Speaker John Boehner described the pipeline provision as a job creation measure. "The American people want jobs, and this is as close to a shovel-ready project as you're ever going to see,” he said, according to CNN.

However, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., told the New York Times the bill was “loaded up with goodies to mollify the extreme right wing that is in charge of this House.”

Republicans “included things that clearly are unacceptable to the president,” Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., told the New York Times. “They know this is not going to pass the Senate.”

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