GOP conferee: 'I didn't volunteer for this'

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) made it clear Tuesday afternoon he'd rather be going home than sitting on a committee that's likely to end up just negotiating with itself.

The chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee is one of eight House Republicans named to a conference committee charged with resolving differences between the Senate payroll tax cut package and a version the House passed. The Senate has already left town and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has made it clear it's finished for the year.

"I didn't volunteer for this, let me put it that way," Upton told reporters Tuesday afternoon. "I just canceled my flight for tomorrow to go back. … It was a very hard phone call just a few minutes ago but I made it. I didn't ask someone to dial it, I actually dialed it myself and said 'you can take me off the flight tomorrow.' "

Upton also was a member of the debt-reduction supercommittee, which failed to reach an agreement earlier this year.

The 13-term lawmaker said the payroll tax conferees have no clear plan yet.

"Our group is going to sit down later this afternoon and figure out the balance of the week," Upton said. "We're going to sit down among ourselves and figure out the game plan."

Despite the risk that House Republicans' gamble won't pay off, Upton made the case for a longer-term solution than the two-month payroll tax cut adopted by the Senate.

"All of you will remember well the great start — 'great' in quotes — of this legislative year when the previous Congress didn't get its budget done and we were mired in [continuing resolutions] and stopgap measures and a lot of stuff before we finally got the budget done in early April," Upton told reporters. "Let's get the job done now."

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