House Republicans stiff attempt from Democrats to call up Senate payroll bill

House Republicans blocked a Democratic attempt Wednesday to call up the Senate payroll tax bill by quickly gaveling the day's pro forma session to a close.

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) presided over the brief session, and after the Pledge of Allegiance closed the session and said the next pro forma would be on Friday. As Fitzpatrick gaveled the session closed, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) asked to be recognized to speak, but Fitzpatrick did not recognize him. Hoyer loudly protested the move as Fitzpatrick walked out of the House.

"You're walking out, you're walking away, just as so many Republicans have walked away from middle-class taxpayers, the unemployed and … those who will be seeking medical assistance from their doctors.

"We regret, Mr. Speaker, that you have walked off the platform without addressing the issue of critical importance to this country," he added.

Hoyer then yielded to House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who began to speak to a chamber that had no presiding officer. C-SPAN's coverage of the floor ended moments after Van Hollen started speaking.

The decision to terminate coverage of the floor was made by the House Recording Studio, not C-SPAN. Normally, the House Recording Studio shuts off coverage immediately after the gavel sounds. Today, the House Recording Studio continued to cover the floor for nearly a minute after the gavel dropped as Hoyer sought recognition.

By the time Van Hollen spoke, his microphone was shut off, although both Hoyer and Van Hollen continued to speak on the floor even after the House Recording Studio's coverage ended.

House Democrats on Tuesday introduced their own version of the Senate-passed payroll tax bill, which would extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance for two months. 

House Republicans on Tuesday called for a conference with the Senate and passed a resolution saying the House favors a yearlong extension. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) say they will not appoint conferees to launch the conference talks.

— This story was updated at 10:42 a.m.

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