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March 2, 2015

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House passes 2-month extension for unemployment insurance, tax cuts

And it came to pass on Thursday, that there went out a decree from House Speaker John Boehner that all House Republicans should vote for the short-term payroll tax bill.

Call it the Christmas spirit or just a sobering reading of public’s reaction to Congress these last few days, but Boehner’s decision to push the House to pass the two-month extension of unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut is bringing an entrenched holiday standoff to an end, saving assistance for the long-term jobless and take-home pay for workers who are employed.

It also gives a special gift to Sen. Harry Reid: a major strategic victory.

Last weekend, Reid struck a bargain with Sen. Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republicans in the Senate.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had been aiming to strike a yearlong bargain to extend low payroll taxes (the Social Security-directed tax rate was temporarily lowered from 6.2 to 4.2 percent last December), unemployment checks, and appropriate reimbursements to doctors who take Medicare and Medicaid patients. But they couldn’t agree on how to pay for it.

The two-month deal — which passed the Senate by a vote of 89 to 10 — is an interim compromise to tide things over until a longer-term deal can be made.

But since the Senate passed it, it’s also become a political football between Republicans in the two chambers of Congress.

Most House Republicans, including Nevada Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei, said they thought the two-month bill was nothing more than Congress punting on the issue and voted instead to appoint eight from their ranks to a conference committee in hopes that they would sit down with senators and hash out a longer bill.

Reid and Sen. Dean Heller called the move a politically motivated delaying tactic and demanded the two-month version be passed.

The impasse seemed unbreakable until Thursday morning, when McConnell suggested the two sides’ demands were not mutually exclusive: the House could acquiesce to the Senate’s demand to pass a short-term bill, while the Senate good comply with the House’s demands to appoint conferees to a committee to work out a longer-term deal.

In the end, that was exactly the deal Reid and Boehner agreed to Thursday afternoon, with one technical correction: a change to provide some fluidity to the payroll tax processing for employers (many Republicans, including Heck, had raised the concern that the deal as drafted would be impossible to implement otherwise). Aides to House Republicans said Thursday the promise that the Senate would appoint conferees also gave them some solace that there was a pathway to a long-term deal and the process would go forward.

But there’s no looming deadline for those conference committee members, aside from the two-month timeline that’s set by the expiration date of the short-term bill. And besides, the senators who voted for the short-term extension, Democrat and Republican, had said all along they eventually wanted a longer-term bill.

Given that the senators got everything they said they wanted, this would seem to come as a win for Reid. Even in House Republicans circles, there’s an acknowledgement that they were losing the political message to Reid on the issue.

House Republicans met Thursday evening at 5 p.m. in Washington for a conference call to talk through the deal and decide whether they would agree to let Boehner pass the bill by unanimous consent or insist on flying back to Washington to vote on the deal before or after Christmas.

Democratic aides said Thursday evening they were expecting to receive the slightly corrected House version of the compromise bill by Friday morning and would pass it by unanimous consent — an arrangement that lets both houses of Congress pass the deal without having to drag anyone who isn’t already in D.C. back to town.

That also means lawmakers in the House will not get to register their individual “yea” or “nay” votes on the compromise as the Senate did — a point Democrats already seem to be seizing to blame Republicans for what they’re framing as a near-catastrophe in the run-up to 2012.

“This should have been a no-brainer, but instead Tea Party Republicans held Nevada’s middle class families hostage to their extreme Wall Street agenda,” Rep. Shelley Berkley said in a statement released Thursday after congressional leaders announced the deal.

Spokesmen for Amodei and Heck — who had opposed the two-month measure — did not immediately comment on the process Thursday afternoon.

But for now, this deal between Reid and Boehner seems to be a sign unto America that there is some peace in Congress and good will toward working men and women — at least until next year.

“Extending the payroll tax and unemployment insurance will benefit Nevadans greatly. Now that Congress has moved beyond this impasse, we can work on a yearlong extension,” Heller said.

“I am grateful that the voices of reason have prevailed and Speaker Boehner has agreed to pass the Senate’s bipartisan compromise...But there remain important differences between the parties on how to implement these policies,” Reid said in a statement. “Two months is not a long time, and I expect the negotiators to work expeditiously to forge year-long extensions of these critical policies.”

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  1. Santa is putting coal into Liar in Chief Obama sock.
    The House passed a very good bill that allowed for:
    1) Lower Gas Prices
    2) 200,000 jobs for those who are unemployed
    3) One year tax extension
    4) One year unemployment extension
    and what does the naughty Harry Reid do - say its not a starter and plays political poker. Harry will not even get coal in his sock as he is a nasty little rat - a fool; a crappy player; a very naughty boy.
    There are lies and lies and slander from obama
    so Santa has both Harry and Reid on the naughty list.

    And the public suffers due to the political trickery of the scum bag Obama.

  2. By the way the tax cut drains the baby boomers social security fund.
    Does Obama care about seniors?

  3. I have told, and told you guys time, and time again,stay away from Fox News, it causes Mental Retardation and now you have been contaminated, I see no cure for you, too bad. FOX too, don't know what the hell they're talking about, you are all Doombed, Doombed, I tell ya.....

  4. lovestohike---
    After reading the above posts, and quite a few of your archived posts, I think that your username would be more honest if you changed it to "lovestohate".

  5. After reading "lovestohike"'s comments,I think there should be an age limit of at least 12 to post.

  6. Finally, the Tea/Republican Party's radical agenda has been confronted and told no, resulting in a victory for the majority of the people, our lifeblood, the working class of America.

    Do they learn from this?

    Judging from the vicious ultra neo-conservative comments above, I'd say no. It looks like it has emboldened them to froth at the mouth and howl even louder against President Obama and his entire administration.

    The radical neo-conservatives haven't been momentarily silenced at all. Looks like they turned up the amplifiers a little louder. And the next attack against the working people of America will probably be worse.

    That's okay. We're ready for them now.

    The President and the Democrats have found the winning combination to fight back and stand up for us. We can't lose. Mainly because we now know their strategies that never change and their predictable avenues of attack.

    We are in the majority. And the Tea/Republican Party is going to find that out firsthand in November 2012 when we all show up at the voting booths to get rid of them.

  7. Here we go again with the fox talking heads claiming king of the hill in ratings. But in the real world you have over 25 million viewers of network news and cable news that cater to liberals and moderates. It is called supply and demand there is only enough demand for one conservative channel and there is enough demand for five liberal and moderate channels looks like the fox talking heads lose again.

    And who is the second biggest shareholder of fox news? Sharia law loving Wahhabi Saudi Arabian prince bin alweed talil and by the way business partner on the now dead ( thank you president Obama) bin laden Family.

    That's right. If you support the fox propaganda channel you are financially supporting the enemy.

  8. Jim Reid

    Nice try but I am definitely not taking marching orders from anyone. Unlike you. Fact is fox news second biggest shareholder is a Shari'a law loving Wahhabi and friend and business partners of bin ladens family.

    And Jim I do not take pleasure in watching people suffer. I will however make an exception in watching the tea party like the silver legion be cast out on the dung heaps of history. After boners keystone cops routine in Congress over the last month that has caused serious damage to the Republican establishment electoral prospects next November. Expect your funding to be removed.


  9. Both sides share the blame equally and partisan yammering here does not change that fact. Reality is that two months from now the people on UI must wait patiently to see if the congress again dithers and engages in a publicity fest instead of just doing business. When the bill expires (if it is written like all the other prior extensions) it halts UI benefits until the Congress gets busy and creates a long term solution. The long term unemployed with no UI left and no job prospects were not aided by this bill.