Deciding against votes after midnight, House Republicans last night delayed action on an extension of a payroll tax cut, as GOP leaders set up a parliamentary situation that does not include a direct vote on a two month extension approved on Saturday by the Senate.
“We disagree with what the Senate produced,” Speaker John Boehner told reporters Monday night, “and as a result we’re asking to go to conference with the Senate to resolve the differences between the two houses.”
While Boehner and other Republicans called that “regular order,” Democrats were livid, accusing the GOP of trying to avoid a direct up-or-down vote on the two month extension that made it through the Senate easily last Saturday.
“You are afraid to have a vote to concur with the Senate,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), “because you are afraid you would lose.”
There was some thought in the hallways of the Capitol Monday night that if the two month extension did come up for a direct vote, then Republicans might lose enough votes – and that plan could actually gain a majority.
But for now, the House GOP isn’t budging, as Republicans argue that a full year extension is the only thing worth doing.
“You cannot do policy in two month increments,” said Rep. Allen West (R-FL).
Democrats though were giddy at the opportunity to take potshots at Republicans on this issue, sensing they have the public relations advantage, as they accused the GOP of endangering a working class tax cut, extended long term jobless benefits and more – all around the Christmas holidays.
“160 million Americans will pay higher taxes because Speaker Boehner is blocking a House vote on compromise bill,” argued Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
“Let’s just get down to it, put the bill on the floor,” Pelosi said, and “see if they’re willing to vote for it.”.
At this point, it doesn’t seem like Democrats will get that chance on the House floor – at least, not right now.