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House punts on tax vote until Tuesday

Speaker John Boehner explains the House decision to postpone the vote on the Senate's version of the two month extension of the payroll tax cut.

 

The stalemate over how and whether to extend an expiring payroll tax cut will drag into Tuesday after House Republicans delayed a planned vote to reject a Senate bill to extend the tax holiday for two months.

House Republican leaders emerged following a meeting with rank-and-file members to say that the House would take up their votes on Tuesday. Lawmakers had planned to vote around 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday evening, but the 6 p.m. meeting of GOP lawmakers lasted longer than expected, over two hours.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that the House Rules Committee, which sets the parameters for votes in the House, would meet tonight to set the stage for tomorrow's series of votes. Those Tuesday votes would include a measure to reject the Senate's two month extension, and instead instruct lawmakers to meet in a conference -- the formal process of resolving differences with legislation in the Senate.

"Our members do not want to just punt and do a two-month, short-term fix where we have to come back and do this again," House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters at the Capitol.

House Republicans prefer legislation to extend the expiring tax cut by a whole year, and produced legislation to that effect. But Democrats in the Senate rejected that proposal because of some of the cuts used to offset the cost of the bill, which also includes an extension of unemployment insurance.

The House had been expected to vote early Tuesday morning after the preliminary vote was delayed. That plan was nixed, apparently with some political optics in mind.

"We also said we didn't like the idea of doing things in the dead of the night," House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA) said.

If the House does manage to follow through on its promise to reject the Senate-passed bill, that move would do little to ostensibly advance any final agreement on payroll taxes. Democrats spent most of Monday explaining that they would not consider any yearlong extension until the House had passed the stopgap tax cut.

"I will not re-open negotiations until the House follows through and passes this agreement that was negotiated by Republican leaders, and supported by 90 percent of the Senate," Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said this afternoon in a statement.

They were joined by a small group of Senate Republicans who publicly urged their House counterparts to approve the two-month extension. The tax cut is set to expire on Dec. 31, meaning payroll taxes would go up on Jan. 1 barring some sort of deal.

Boehner downplayed any notion of discord among Republicans, refusing to say whether Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) had erred in expecting the House to pass the agreement McConnell had reached with Reid.

"The Senate did their job. They produced a bill," Boehner said. "And the House disagrees with it."