Now that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is publicly calling on House Speaker Boehner to just take the two-month payroll tax extension deal, House Republicans aren’t going to be able to hold out much longer:
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday urged House Republicans to pass a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, putting greater pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to act.
McConnell said House passage of a Senate-approved payroll tax relief package “locks in” legislative language requiring President Obama to speed up his timetable for approving the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
Ed Morrissey writes that Obama had a press conference scheduled for 1 p.m., which could signal an agreement. In exchange for the House passing the two-month extension, the Senate will likely reconvene after the New Year to hammer out a year-long deal.
Setting the narrative, Boehner blasted out a read-out of his phone call with Obama earlier today, in which the president apparently rejected the idea that a deal could be reached before January 1:
“Today, Speaker Boehner called President Obama to discuss the Speaker’s desire to provide a full year of tax relief for American families before December 31. With Senator Reid having declined to call his Members back to Washington this week to join the House in negotiating a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut, the Speaker proposed that the president send members of his economic policy team up to Congress to find a way to accommodate the president’s full-year request. The Speaker explained his concern that flaws in the Senate-passed bill will be unworkable for many small business job creators. He reiterated that if their shared goal is a one-year bill, there is no reason an agreement cannot be reached before year’s end. The president declined the Speaker’s offer.”
House Republicans have little choice but to take the deal to negotiate a year-long extension with Democrats in early January – a token gesture that gives the appearance that the House GOP isn’t walking away empty-handed. This is a perfect affirmation of the phrase “choose your battles wisely.” After a lot of noise and some political damage, House Republicans will probably get very little out of this standoff.