House OKs Payroll Tax Cut Extension Bill
The House measure was approved on a largely party-line vote and was met with immediate promises of opposition from Senate Democrats and the White House. Caught in the crossfire is the Medicare "doc fix" and, possibly, a separate omnibus spending bill to provide government funding through next September.
The New York Times: House Passes Extension Of Cut To Payroll Taxes
[T]he House on Tuesday passed a bill extending a cut in Social Security payroll taxes for 160 million Americans for another year. But the Democratic majority in the Senate vowed to reject the measure. … The bill would extend jobless benefits for some of the unemployed, while reducing the maximum number of weeks of benefits that a worker could receive. It would also ... freeze the pay of many federal employees through 2013; increase Medicare premiums for affluent beneficiaries; prevent a deep cut in Medicare payments to doctors; and eliminate more than $20 billion of spending planned under Mr. Obama's new health care law (Pear and Steinhauer, 12/13).
Los Angeles Times: House Approves Payroll Tax Cut Extension, With Strings Attached
A payroll tax cut package engineered by House Speaker John A. Boehner was overwhelmingly approved by Republicans despite a veto threat from President Obama. … But the Republican win is expected to be short lived, as the bill has limited chances in the Senate, where Democrats oppose the GOP priorities that Boehner added to the bill to win Republican votes. … To pay for the bill, Republicans shun Obama's proposal to impose a surtax on millionaires. Instead they propose reducing long-term unemployment insurance, cutting federal workers' pay and asking upper-income seniors to pay more for Medicare, among other provisions (Mascaro, 12/13).
The Washington Post: Congress Debates Payroll Tax Cut, Government Funding Omnibus
Prospects for a year-end congressional compromise on key tax and spending legislation grew more complicated Tuesday, as the Republican House passed a controversial version of a payroll tax cut extension despite a veto threat from the White House. The increasingly contentious tax dispute threatens to derail what had been an emerging compromise on separate legislation to fund the government through next September, raising the specter of a possible government shutdown this weekend if the conflict is not resolved by Friday (Helderman and Sonmez, 12/13).
Politico Pro: Health Section Of The Spending Bill Almost Done
Lawmakers have agreed on an appropriations bill that extends the ban on public funding of abortions in D.C. and includes other limited health-related riders that Democrats appear to be able to live with, several lawmakers say. Under the Hyde amendment the federal government does not cover most abortions, but some states do use their own Medicaid dollars. The District did that briefly, but that ended earlier this year. Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said Tuesday the plan includes the D.C. abortion rider but wouldn't discuss any other provisions in deference to lawmakers who haven't yet been briefed (Haberkorn, 12/13).
The Wall Street Journal: Payroll-Tax Fight Stands In Way Of Year-End Budget Bill
Congress lurched toward another round of political brinksmanship, as haggling over payroll-tax relief has slowed approval of a year-end budget bill needed to keep the government open beyond Friday. The House, on a largely party-line vote, Tuesday passed its version of legislation to extend a payroll-tax break, renew extended unemployment benefits and offset the revenue loss with a package of spending cuts. President Barack Obama promised to veto the bill because Democrats would rather pay for the tax break and jobless benefits with a tax increase on the wealthy than with spending cuts to health care and other domestic programs (Hook, 12/14).
Politico: Payroll Tax Fight Heads To Senate
Democrats in the Senate, who had been weighing proposing their own broad package to extend the payroll tax, jobless benefits and avert a pay decrease for Medicare physicians, are now considering abandoning that move altogether. Instead, once the Senate rejects the House bill, they'll demand the GOP cut a deal on the payroll bill to move on the spending bill — since Boehner will need Democratic votes to move on that (Sherman and Raju, 12/13).
The Associated Press: Focus On Senate After House OKs Payroll Tax Cut
A Republican payroll tax cut bill that sailed through the House despite a White House veto threat is dead on arrival in the Senate, and it will soon be time for talks on a final package, the Senate's top Democrat says. ... Republicans would raise the money by continuing a pay freeze on civilian federal workers and requiring them to contribute more to their pensions; making higher-earning seniors pay steeper premiums for Medicare; cutting funds from Obama's 2010 health care overhaul; raising some federal fees; and selling portions of the broadcast spectrum (Fram, 12/14).
USA Today: Deal On Payroll Tax Cut Extension Still Elusive
To maintain leverage in the payroll tax cut negotiations, Democrats have slowed movement on a critical "omnibus" spending measure that funds the federal government through Sept. 30 of next year. If Congress does not pass the $915 billion omnibus, or approve a short-term funding measure by Friday, the government will face the third shutdown threat this year. Senate Democrats, fearing House Republicans will approve their versions of the legislation and leave Washington for the holidays, are withholding action on the omnibus measure to negotiate a final payroll tax package that can become law (Davis, 12/13).