In payroll tax battle, GOP shows cracks under Democratic pressure
Democrats are ramping up the pressure on House Republicans over their refusal to pass a payroll tax deal – and some Senate Republicans are not rushing to their colleagues' aid.
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But on Wednesday, the Speaker and eight negotiators appointed to conference with Senate Democrats met at an empty table and under a hail of criticism.
- The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page dubbed the payroll tax strategy “a fiasco.”
- Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona retweeted the WSJ editorial to his 1.7 million followers.
- Senate Republicans stepped up public criticism of House GOP leaders for blocking a bipartisan solution to the impasse, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, since Sunday, went silent.
“We are here in Washington working today because we want to make sure that the middle class and working families of this country have some certainty that their taxes will not go up for the entirety of next year,” said House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia, at a photo op at the start of Wednesday’s meeting.
“Frankly, that's the only issue with which we differ with the Senate. And we're asking, as the Speaker said, for the Senate majority leader to appoint conferees to come join us to try and finish the work for the American people before the end of the year,” he added.
Senate Republican leaders and eight members appointed to serve on the conference committees say they are committed to staying in Washington to find a solution. But House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi or Senate majority leader Harry Reid say they will not appoint conferees or negotiate with the House until the House votes to accept the Senate measure.
In a letter on Wednesday, Senator Reid again called on the House to take up the Senate bill. “Because we have a responsibility to assure middle-class families that their taxes will not go up while we work out our differences, we must pass this immediate extension first,” he wrote.
Summing up how Democrats view House GOP leverage on this issue, Senator Schumer told reporters today: “They’re at the end of the rope.”
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