(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, phoned President Obama on Thursday morning and asked him to send members of his economic team to the Capitol to end the political stalemate and negotiate a path toward a one-year extension of the payroll tax credit. The president declined the offer.
“With Sen. 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,” a senior aide to the speaker said. “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.”
According to the White House, the president told Boehner, “the only viable option” is the two-month extension, but Obama, “is committed to begin working immediately on a full-year agreement once the House passes the bipartisan Senate compromise that prevents a tax hike on 160 million Americans on Jan. 1.”
At about the same time as the speaker’s call to the president, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined a chorus of GOP senators in calling for Boehner and House Republicans to compromise on a two-month temporary extension to lure Democrats to the conference committee negotiating table on a long-term deal.
“House Republicans sensibly want greater certainty about the duration of these provisions, while Senate Democrats want more time to negotiate the terms. These goals are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both,” McConnell wrote in a statement this morning. “Leader Reid should appoint conferees on the long-term bill and the House should pass an extension that locks in the thousands of Keystone XL pipeline jobs, prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions and allows Congress to work on a solution for the longer extensions.”
The Senate passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax last Saturday, and the House passed its own year-long extension Dec. 13.
Thursday morning Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and the House GOP’s eight conferees held a news conference for the second straight day to call on Democrats to return to Washington and negotiate a one-year deal, something Reid has refused to do until his terms are met.
Faced with growing pressure from prominent conservatives to accept the two-month stop-gap measure, Boehner said that, “sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing, but we’re working to do the right thing.”
Immediately following the GOP’s news conference, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and other senior Democrats answered with their own news conference to pressure Republicans to accept the two-month extension and create a path to continue negotiations on a one-year measure.
Wednesday, Hoyer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Budget committee, attempted to pass the Senate’s bill under unanimous consent, but the pro forma session ended before the duo was recognized.
The House of Representatives returns for another pro forma session Friday morning.
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