U.S. Congress reaches deal on payroll tax cut extension

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Speaker of the U.S. House John Boehner announced yesterday that he would agree to a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. In an effort to end the impasse between the House and Senate, Boehner told Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid that he would schedule a House vote on the Senate version of the bill that would extend the tax cut, which was due to expire at the end of the year.

Speaker John Boehner (pictured) announced yesterday that he would agree to a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.
Image: U.S. Congress.

Speaker Boehner announced the agreement in a brief statement: "Senator Reid and I have reached an agreement that will ensure taxes do not increase for working families on January 1". Boehner informed other congressmen of the deal in a conference call yesterday evening.

The House may pass the bill via unanimous consent today, which would not require the presence of all members. Boehner and Reid also agreed to a bipartisan negotiation committee to sort out differences and extend the tax cut for an entire year, a goal recently sought by Republicans in the House.

The extension of the payroll tax cut, which would prevent approximately 160 million Americans from seeing a tax increase in 2012, had already been passed by the Senate last weekend. Earlier yesterday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell joined several other Republican Senators in encouraging the House to pass the extension.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said that once the House acts, he "will be happy to restart the negotiating process to forge a yearlong extension." At a news conference, Speaker Boehner issued a statement: "We have fought the good fight. Why not do the right thing for the American people even though it's not exactly what we want." President Obama also responded to the development in a statement: "This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people's lives."

The tax cut extension impasse began when the House effectively rejected the Senate-approved version of the bill on Tuesday after being faced with opposition from House Republicans, specifically those associated with the Tea Party movement, who advocated for spending cuts and the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.


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