More kabuki theater from John Boehner and the House Republicans over the extension of the payroll tax holiday -- House GOP cancels plan to vote on Senate payroll tax bill:
December 19, 2011

More kabuki theater from John Boehner and the House Republicans over the extension of the payroll tax holiday -- House GOP cancels plan to vote on Senate payroll tax bill:

The delay suggests GOP leaders did not have the votes to reject the Senate payroll tax bill.

House GOP leaders have decided to delay a vote on the Senate payroll tax bill until midday Tuesday, abandoning tentative plans to hold votes as late as 3 a.m. Tuesday morning.

House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) told reporters that the delay was caused by a GOP conference meeting running two hours into overtime Monday evening. He said the House would convene at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

House leaders also appear to be looking to avoid a separate, up-or-down vote on the Senate payroll tax bill. [...]

The Senate approved the measure in an overwhelming bipartisan 89-10 vote, and several Senate Republicans on Monday urged the House to approve the measure.

With Democrats planning to support the measure, the delay suggests Republicans were not certain they had the votes to reject the Senate bill, as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) predicted they would on Monday.

TPM's Brian Beutler has more on how things may go from here -- Standoff: A Guide To The Ongoing Fight Over The Payroll Tax Cut:

At a Capitol press conference Monday morning, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters he expects his members will kill the bipartisan, Senate-passed, two-month payroll tax cut bill. Instead he said Republicans will insist that Senate Democrats return to Washington and hash out the differences between that package, and the partisan one-year bill the House GOP passed a week ago.

That’s setting up a new round in the ongoing fight over how to prevent that tax cut — and other expiring policies like emergency unemployment benefits, and reimbursement rates for Medicare physicians — from expiring. [...]

But after a stunning rebellion by House Republicans, Boehner has publicly committed to killing the compromise. Assuming he follows through, that’ll reset the debate to some extent. Senate Democrats have told Boehner they’re done for the year. Acting as Boehner’s proxy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell negotiated an agreement that was designed to pass the House, he gave Majority Leader Harry Reid the greenlight to adjourn until after the holidays, and then Boehner reneged — this is his problem.

But while that’s an argument almost everybody in Washington — or everyone who watched this weekend’s events unfold — agrees with, it won’t necessarily translate into voter pressure on House Republicans. If the Senate bill goes down in the House tonight, and the only people left in Washington are Boehner and his caucus demanding in the national media that Senate Dems return from vacation to resume negotiations, the politics will change. Reid’s threats could easily prove unsustainable, and he may be forced back to Capitol Hill to convene the Senate and appoint members to a conference committee. Read on...

And here's more from Hunter at Daily KOS -- House leadership blocks vote on payroll tax cut extension:

No matter what the Democrats give, it's apparently not enough. Or maybe it is, but the GOP meltdown in the House is so severe at this point that they literally can accomplish nothing.

According to the GOP leadership's press conference this evening, they won't be voting on the payroll tax cut sent to them by the Senate. This is almost certainly because the numbers showed the bill would pass, and for whatever reason, the GOP leadership doesn't want it to pass. It's yet another (in this case, massive) failure of their leadership to control their own caucus.

So here's what (apparently) will be happening next. Instead of voting on the Senate bill, the GOP leadership will have the House vote tomorrow on a non-binding Sense of the House resolution saying that they really, really want a payroll tax cut extension that lasts a full year, not just the two month version. This accomplishes nothing, but Eric Cantor and the others expect this will allow them to save face by telling America just how much they'd love to get that done, except for the part where they've been blocking it from happening with poison pill after poison pill.

Then they're going to send it all to conference, in which the House and the Senate will negotiate, yet again, to come up with a plan both the Senate and House can agree on. A rather obvious problem with this is that the Senate is technically gone for the holidays already. Another problem: it's not clear there's any way they can agree anyway, barring yet another round of Democratic concessions (yes, yes, what are the odds?) or a cave on the part of Cantor's own faction.

What happens now? Who knows? Yet another round of brinksmanship, yet another blowhard-filled press conference blaming the mean Senate for a fiasco in the House, and yet another blown deadline. If John Boehner and Cantor are attempting to ratchet Congressional approval ratings lower still, they're doing a heck of a job of it.

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