Senate Republicans Reject Payroll Tax Extension Measures
Proposals to extend payroll tax relief, as well as take steps to prevent a scheduled 30 percent reduction in Medicare physician reimbursements from taking effect in January, are high on the congressional to-do list. A House vote on a doc-fix patch could take place as soon as next week.
Los Angeles Times: Senate Republicans Reject Measures To Extend Payroll Tax Break
First, Republicans blocked President Obama's proposal to expand the payroll tax break to $1,500 for 2012 and extend it to employers who hire new workers, paying for it with a 3.25 percent surtax on those earning more than $1 million a year. Then Republicans joined Democrats in rejecting the GOP leaders' offering, which would require earners making more than $1 million to pay more for Medicare, continue a freeze on federal employee salaries and cut the government workforce. It failed, 78 to 20, with more than two dozen Republicans and all Democrats voting no (Mascaro, 12/1).
The Washington Post: Payroll Tax Break: Extension Proposals From Both Parties Fail
The Senate late Thursday rejected competing partisan visions for extending a temporary tax break that benefits virtually every American worker, clearing the way for more serious negotiations over how to cover the cost of the tax cut. … Even as the Senate dispatched with the dueling measures, bipartisan talks were underway over how to extend the existing tax cut, though aides said Obama's proposed expansion appeared unlikely. Negotiators were also aiming to reach agreement on two other expiring provisions. Emergency unemployment benefits, which provide up to 99 weeks of income support, are set to expire Dec. 31. And doctors will absorb a 30 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements starting in January unless Congress acts (Montgomery and Sonmez, 12/1).
The Wall Street Journal: Senate Blocks Tax-Cut Bills
The payroll-tax cut is only one issue Congress must tackle by Dec. 31. Lawmakers also face pressure to extend unemployment benefits and adjust payments for doctors under Medicare, both of which face a year-end deadline. Congress also must act by Dec. 16 to continue funding the government. Party leaders still hope they can wrap up the final items in short order. "I do believe there's enough common ground between where the White House and Democrats are and where Republicans are for us to move this legislation and to do so quickly," said House Speaker John Boehner (Bendavid and Hook, 12/2).
Politico Pro: House Could Vote On SGR Patch Next Week
The House could vote as soon as next week on a package of year-end, must-do items, including a patch to stave off the scheduled cut to Medicare providers. After Thursday's meeting between the Doctors' Caucus and House Republican leaders, attendees say they expect the leadership to figure out what kind of Sustainable Growth Rate patch can fit with other items that could be included in a larger package, such as an extension of unemployment insurance and an Alternative Minimum Tax patch (Haberkorn, 12/1).