NY lawmaker: GOP taking ‘principled’ stance on payroll tax bill

Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) responded to criticism that House Republicans were playing politics with the payroll tax cut, saying the GOP was “principled” and was trying to “do what’s right.” Hayworth suggested that her party’s stance on the tax cut is backed by a mandate from voters.

Speaking Monday on CNBC’s "Squawk Box," Hayworth was asked if House Republicans were set to shoot down the Senate-passed payroll tax cut because of politics, not policy.

“If you look at it — and Nancy Pelosi actually told us this when she was still Speaker and she welcomed the new freshmen in November of 2010,” Hayworth said, “the House is the most immediate voice of the American people. They voted overwhelmingly in 2010 for us to take action to relieve regulatory burdens, to provide assurance that the federal government isn’t going to strangle our economy. They saw that so-called stimulus was not stimulating.

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“So we feel that we have the conviction of the American people behind us,” Hayworth continued. “We’re not doing this to be political. I’m an ophthalmologist, I’m a doctor, and I entered this process because I feel that we needed practical voices to be heard.”

Republicans and Democrats brokered a deal that overwhelmingly passed the Senate on Saturday, in which the payroll tax cut would have been extended for two months to give both sides more time to negotiate a longer extension. Lawmakers had been unable to agree on how to pay for a yearlong extension.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday that the Senate compromise did not have the support of rank-and-file House Republicans.

Republicans want to extend the tax holiday for a full year, pay for it with budget cuts and force President Obama to fast-track a decision on the controversial Keystone pipeline.

Democrats say it should be paid for by closing tax breaks for wealthy earners and corporations.

“We on the House side are really not seeking to be partisan — we are principled, yes, we represent a point of view, no question,” Hayworth said. “But it is not a matter of trying to play politics, it really is a matter of trying to do what’s right.”

Hayworth also said that despite its passage of the payroll tax holiday, it’s the Democrat-controlled Senate that’s dysfunctional, not the Republican-controlled House.

“[The House] managed to get to the one-year point; the Senate hasn’t managed to get beyond two months,” she said. “But let’s just look at the budget — the House passed a budget in April. The Senate has not passed a budget in going on three years. That is living in a fantasy land, and it’s not a good place to be.”

Hayworth also blasted the previous Democrat-controlled Houses.

“This is not a partisan issue,” she continued. “If you look at the leadership that Speaker Boehner has taken over the course of the year and that the Republican leadership of the House has taken, we’ve opened up the legislative process, we have Democratic colleagues with a full voice, we vote on amendments to bills, we have an open debate process that was not the case the previous two Congresses.”