Whether you say that House GOP leaders “caved in” to Democrats or simply gave in to growing pressure within Republican ranks, it was a rough few days for Speaker John Boehner in his party’s bid to forge a year-long extension of a payroll tax cut.
“It may not have been politically the smartest thing in the world,” Boehner told reporters in announcing the deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for a two month extension, “but let me tell you what, I think our members waged a good fight.”
A quick scan of news web sites though showed that the headlines were not so forgiving for Boehner.
“Payroll tax deadlock ends as House caves,” said the Associated Press.
“Boehner caves in on tax cut deal,” said ABC News.
Democrats were more than happy to pile on.
“It was about time the GOP put the needs of the middle class ahead of Tea Party politics and agreed to the payroll tax cut,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz (R-FL).
What did Republicans get in this deal? They got Democrats to agree to appoint negotiators to work out a one year extension of the payroll tax cut in coming weeks – before the next deadline of February 29.
On the Republican side, there was a lot of grumbling from the rank and file.
“I cannot support this concession,” said Rep. Allen West (R-FL).
“It seems the politics of demagoguery have won over policy and principle with the concession to enact tax policy on two-month basis,” West added.
“It is disappointing that since the Senate failed to do their job, we will now have to have this debate again in two months,” said Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN).
The plan is to approve the deal by “unanimous consent” – a term that’s well understood in the halls of Congress, but not so well outside of Capitol Hill.
Basically it means that any lawmaker could object to the bill’s passage – and if that happens, then Speaker Boehner would call the House back in to session to take a vote next week.
That would cost an estimated $4-5 million.
There was talk that someone would object to the deal; I asked one Republican if he would do that.
“No, that would just cost the taxpayers more money,” he said before adding in the final verbal punch.
“They are getting screwed already,” he added.
For a third straight year, the Congress is in session just a few days before the holiday break for lawmakers.