By Russell Berman - 12/19/11 03:37 PM EST
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he expects the House to vote down the Senate’s two-month extension of the payroll tax cut on Monday evening and instead launch a formal conference committee to work out a yearlong extension.
“This is a vote on whether Congress will stay and do its work or go on vacation,” Boehner told reporters at the Capitol. "I expect that the House will disagree with the Senate amendment and instead vote to formally go to conference — the formal process of which the House and Senate can resolve our differences between our two chambers and our two bills.”
President Obama and congressional leaders had called for a one-year extension of the payroll tax cut, but the Senate could only agree to a two-month extension because of differences in how to pay for it.
“A two-month extension creates uncertainty and will cause problems for people who are trying to create jobs in the private sector,” Boehner said.
“No more kicking the can down the road,” he said. “It’s time to stop the nonsense.”
The Speaker denied that he had initially voiced support for the Senate measure on a private conference call with House Republicans before reversing himself after fellow party leaders and rank-and-file members strongly opposed the bill.
“That’s not true,” he said. “I raised concerns about the two-month process from the moment that I heard about it.”
The House has passed a one-year extension of the payroll tax cut that the White House has threatened to veto, but Boehner said he didn’t think the differences between the House and Senate were that great. Senate Democratic leaders, however, have balked at re-opening negotiations and calling their members back from recess.
The Senate bill passed in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, 89-10, putting House Republicans directly at odds with a majority of GOP senators who backed it. House GOP aides said it was not clear if party leaders would actively whip against the measure. Democrats are urging their members to support it, meaning that if about two dozen Republicans defected to vote yes, the bill could pass.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement that the House would stay in session "until we guarantee that no one faces a tax increase in the year ahead."
"The president has said it would be ‘inexcusable’ to not extend the payroll tax cut for a year – and we agree," Cantor said. "The goal of the House, the Senate and the president is a full year extension of the payroll tax cut – so let’s achieve our goals. Let’s deliver for the American people this holiday season.”
— This story was updated at 11:19 a.m.