Reports: Congress Close To A Deal On Payroll Tax Cut

The Associated Press and Reuters are reporting that House Republicans have relented and will vote on a two-month extension of the payroll tax. On Tuesday, the House had voted to move the bill into conference, but the Senate had already left town.

What resulted was another Washington showdown with Senate Democrats — who passed the bill in rare bi-partisan fashion — refusing to negotiate further and House Republicans insisting that a year-long extension was the only way to go.

Citing a “Democratic leadership aide,” Reuters reports Speaker John Boehner had informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he would hold a vote on the measure.

If the House approves the measure before the end of the year, it would ensure that about 2 million Americans will continuing receiving long-term unemployment benefits and 160 million Americans would not see a 2-percent payroll tax hike.

We’ll have more as this story develops.

Update at 4:28 p.m. ET. Conference Call:

Multiple news outlets are reporting that House leaders will hold a conference call at 5 p.m. ET. to present the deal to rank-and-file Republicans. Now, if you remember, it was after a Saturday conference call that Speaker Boehner walked away from the deal reached in the Senate.

Some Republicans opposed the tax break, because as Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, told the AP, “it failed to create any jobs.” Other Republicans were unhappy with the bill because many of the spending cuts — including cuts to fund Obama’s healthcare bill — had been stripped from the legislation.

In the end, the move backfired on Republicans. As we reported yesterday, even the conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal advocated passing the two-month extension.

Today, as The Washington Post reports, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pressured his Republican colleagues in the House to pass the two-month extension. The Post adds:

“In his first statement on the issue since Sunday, McConnell (R-Ky.) urged his counterparts in the House to pass an extension that ‘prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions, and allows Congress to work on a solution for the longer extensions.’

Update at 4:21 p.m. ET. A Tweaked Bill?:

Politico reports that what is on the table is not a simple up or down vote on the Senate version of the bill. Instead, the House would send a “slightly tweaked” version of the bill back to the Senate.

Reuters is also reporting that the Senate could reconvene on Friday to vote on the measure.

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