By Mike Lillis - 12/09/11 06:01 PM EST
Republican “extremism” is the only thing stopping Congress from finalizing an
extension of the payroll-tax cut and getting out of town for the
holidays, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi charged Friday.
The California Democrat hammered the tax package from House Republicans, warning that the addition of “poison pill” riders — particularly language expediting approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline — means the bill is dead on arrival.
Pelosi said she hadn’t seen the final language of the Republican bill, which was posted roughly an hour before her news conference. But the inclusion of the Keystone language — designed to attract the support of wary conservatives — indicates the GOP “isn’t serious” about enacting the legislation, Pelosi charged.
Noting that many Republicans initially opposed an
extension of the payroll-tax holiday, Pelosi applauded GOP leaders for
finally getting behind that provision.
“But,” Pelosi added, “[they] put so many poison pills on it that it couldn’t possibly survive.
“We don’t have time for sending messages. We have to create work for the American people.
“It’s not about what the American people are thinking — they support a payrol-tax cut, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans or independents,” she added. “It’s about the extremism of the Republicans in the House of Representatives that remains the obstacle to this tax cut.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) joined the criticism Friday, saying the “unrelated and controversial” additions in the Republicans’ final proposal will likely sink the bill.
“Democrats remain willing to work with Republicans to extend these critical measures before Congress adjourns for the year,” Hoyer said in a news release, “but I do not believe that the plan Republican leaders proposed this morning would be the best path forward to do so.”
President Obama on Wednesday suggested he would veto
any bill that expedites a decision on the Keystone project — a decision
the State Department has postponed until after next year’s elections.
“I think [Obama] is serious, but at the end, it may
be [that] here’s an opportunity to get a deal and get what I want and go home,” Cleaver said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.
Pelosi rejected that assessment Friday, saying she takes the president at his word.
“I don’t think it poses a problem [for Democrats],” Pelosi said. “The president has said he will veto the bill — he will veto the bill.”
A spokeswoman for Cleaver later said that the congressman misspoke, and had no intention of supporting the bill.