It looks like Boehner blinked on the payroll tax holiday extension -- BREAKING: House Republicans Cave, Agree To Two-Month Payroll Tax Cut Extension:
A top Senate Democratic aide says House Republicans have privately offered up the terms of their surrender on the payroll tax cut, pending sign off from their notoriously unwieldy caucus.
As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested Thursday morning, it will involve House Republicans passing a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut (and unemployment insurance and reimbursement rates for Medicare physicians) in exchange for Senate Dems agreeing to a formal conference committee to work out a year-long extension of all items.
The temporary extension won’t be identical to the one Senate Dems passed. It will differ in very minor technical ways. House Republicans have already rejected the bipartisan Senate compromise bill, so they’ll have to draw up essentially the same bill from scratch, pass it in the House and then have the Senate readopt it by unanimous consent.
In exchange, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will agree to a formal conference committee. The House will bring its partisan, one-year extenders bill to the table (complete with policy riders and pay-fors that cut programs like Medicare) and the Senate will bring the bipartisan legislation that passed overwhelmingly on Saturday.
This is a fairly minor concession for Reid. He’s been on the record for days now saying he’d resume negotiations on a full-year extension as soon as the House passed the Senate bill. He’s saying that instead of taking the lead on those negotiations with Boehner and McConnell, that a formal conference committee would get first bite at the apple.
As the CNN reporters noted in the clip above, it looks like House Republicans were taking some heat from their own constituents who were upset over them over their obstruction.
This is a huge defeat for John Boehner and the House Tea Party Republicans. How big? Via Steve Benen:
If Boehner were a stronger, more effective House Speaker, this fiasco could have been easily avoided. He could have told his caucus this was a fight they were likely to lose, so passing the Senate bill quickly was the smart course of action. But he couldn’t — Boehner takes orders; he doesn’t give them.
It’s what helps make this story a disaster, not only for Republicans in general, but also for John Boehner personally. As he surrenders this afternoon, Boehner becomes The Speaker Who Has No Clothes.
He stuck out his neck, vowing not to cave, knowing he’d likely have to cave anyway. Boehner than waited until the pressure became unbearable — after he’d lost face and friends — and walked away with his tail between his legs.
Neither party has had a Speaker this feeble in modern times. His instincts told him to take the deal over the weekend, but Boehner allowed himself to be pushed around by his unhinged caucus, then get pushed around by Democrats, then get pushed around by his allies, then get pushed around by Senate Republicans.
How big a disaster was this for Boehner? Keep an eye on whether Eric Cantor’s travel schedule changes over the holidays.