House Dems accuse GOP of setting up tax bill to fail on purpose

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday afternoon implied that House Republicans are purposefully setting up their bill to extend the payroll-tax holiday and unemployment benefits to fail by including language that President Obama has said he would veto.

Speaking on the House floor, Pelosi said GOP leaders had not been for a payroll-tax-cut extension, but that Democrats have made the issue too hot for Republicans to handle.

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So theyre bringing a bill to the floor today, which says theyre for a payroll-tax cut, but has within it the seeds of its own destruction, because it has poison pills, which they know are not acceptable to the president, Pelosi said.

She didnt say what language Obama opposes, but the president has said he would oppose language requiring a faster decision on permitting the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline. Democrats have numerous other objections as well, including language that would reduce unemployment benefits and ask more of unemployment beneficiaries, such as submitting to drug tests and taking steps toward their high school equivalency diploma, or GED.

You cannot do this by saying, ‘Were going to put something in the bill that the president says he will not sign, Pelosi said. Its hard to understand how you can say youre for something, except youre going to put up obstacles to its passage.

Later in the debate, Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) was more explicit.

The House Republicans have designed a bill to fail, he said. They say theyre for extending the payroll-tax cut for middle-class Americans, they say they want to help the unemployed, but yet they demand a ransom in order for us to get this passed.

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House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) rejected Pelosis comments, saying none of the bill’s provisions are meant as poison pills to scuttle the bill.

The idea of saying that we want to encourage those who are unemployed to move towards a GED does not seem to me to be a poison pill, Dreier said. The idea of saying that we should have drug testing … so that people who are receiving these unemployment benefits are not using those resources to purchase drugs is obviously not a poison pill.

These exchanges took place as members debated the rule for the bill, H.R. 3630. A vote on the rule was expected before 3 p.m., after which the House was expected to hold 90 minutes of debate on the bill.