By Russell Berman - 12/18/11 07:34 PM EST
House Democrats assailed House Republican opposition to the Senate-passed payroll tax compromise, accusing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) of “kowtowing” to the Tea Party and risking a tax increase for American families.
“By holding up this bipartisan compromise, Tea Party House Republicans are walking away once again, showing their extremism and clearly demonstrating that they never intended to give the middle class a tax cut,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement Sunday.
“Speaker Boehner must bring the Senate-passed bipartisan bill to the floor immediately. The only thing standing in the way of a middle class tax cut is Tea Party Republicans in the House with their latest made-up crisis just days before Christmas.”
The Senate bill got 89 votes in a broad bipartisan endorsement, and Obama indicated he would sign it.
“This is a partisan middle class mugging by extreme House Republicans,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement. “At a time when hard-working families need every dollar in their pockets, House Republicans and their Tea Party extremists will have mugged $1,000 from the middle class. Nearly forty Republicans in the Senate voted for a middle class tax cut compromise and now extreme House Republicans are ready to scuttle it and sock the middle class with a tax hike on January 1st. Their partisanship will cost Americans money.”
Another senior Democrat, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), put the onus on Boehner and urged him to stand up to the more conservative elements of the House GOP. “It is time for Speaker Boehner to demonstrate real leadership and bring it up for a vote tomorrow,” he said. “We are witnessing a pattern of Speaker Boehner walking away from bipartisan compromises to kow-tow to his extreme tea party wing of his caucus.”
House Republican leaders say they will vote on Monday to either amend the Senate bill or approve a conference committee to reconcile that legislation with a House-passed payroll tax cut. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, however, that the Senate would not be called back to Washington before the holidays.
“Given that the president is delaying his vacation, this does not seem like a sustainable position at all,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.