Democrats turn tables on GOP as Boehner relents on payroll-tax deal
House Speaker John Boehner agreed to let the Senate's payroll-tax deal come to the floor for a vote, where it is expected to pass Friday. It was a rare win in a tough year for Democrats.
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When Speaker Boehner on Thursday renewed calls for the Senate to appoint conferees to work out a one-year bill, Senator Reid declined. “Once the House passes the Senate’s bipartisan compromise to hold middle-class families harmless while we work out our differences, I will be happy to restart the negotiating process to forge a year-long extension,” Reid said.Skip to next paragraph
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When Boehner rang up Obama, requesting that he send advisers to Capitol Hill to discuss flaws in the Senate plan, the president declined. “Enough is enough,” he said at a rally with Americans concerned about a payroll tax hike. “The people standing with me today can’t afford any more games.”
“The House needs to pass a short-term version of this compromise, and then we should negotiate an agreement as quickly as possible to extend the payroll-tax cut and unemployment insurance for the rest of 2012,” he added.
In a final blow, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday broke silence to urge Republicans to accept the Senate plan and for Democrats to name negotiators to an eventual conference over a one-year extension. That proposal became, in effect, the compromise that broke the impasse.
Up until this week, House Republicans, backed by a strong freshmen class stared down Senate Democrats and the Obama White House in one clash after another. With the new GOP House majority, the conversation on Capitol Hill shifted from stimulus spending to deficit cutting, from new green energy to fossil fuels. Deficit was cutting in. Tax hikes, including for the highest income taxpayers, was out.
The president tried to compromise with the new majority and Senate Democrats capitulated, dismaying elements of the Democratic base. Republicans won every encounter.
- House Republicans threatened to shut down the government over unfinished spending bills for fiscal year 2011 – a standoff that was settled after Democrats agreed to billions in spending cuts.
- Boehner announced a new rule for raising the national debt limit – that any hike in the debt ceiling must be accompanied by at least equal spending cuts – and took the nation to the brink of a first-ever default on the national debt to hold that line. Negotiations between Boehner and Obama broke down after GOP conservatives rebelled at reports that the Speaker had agreed to $800 billion in revenue hikes.
- Until now, House Republicans had stopped the Democratic agenda cold. Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget and jobs program were blocked in the House, and his legacy from the last Congress – health-care and Wall Street reforms – placed under permanent siege.
But by late August, Democrats were weary of appearing rolled the by the tea-party wing of the House Republican caucus – and heartened by signs that the public mood was turning against them.
The debt-ceiling debacle, which produced the first-ever downgrade of the US credit rating, battered the reputation of Congress, now at record low levels. It also battered public perception of the tea-party movement and of House Republicans, who were especially blamed for the brinkmanship in Congress.