By Erik Wasson - 12/20/11 09:13 PM EST
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other House Democratic leaders on Tuesday denied that they share any blame for the stalemate over extending a payroll-tax cut and jobless benefits that has ensued in Congress.
Pelosi said Democrats will not appoint any conferees to a House-Senate conference on a yearlong payroll-tax-cut extension because the GOP effort to convene such a conference is just a trick.
Thirty-nine Senate Republicans voted for the bill, many won over by a provision forcing the administration to decide on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline within 60 days — a move that would put President Obama in a tough political position.
Pelosi evoked the “Peanuts” cartoon series, saying she would not play Charlie Brown to Boehner’s Lucy. In that cartoon, Lucy fools Charlie Brown into attempting to kick a football, only to pull it away at the last minute, causing Charlie Brown to be humiliated.
“He is not Lucy and we are not Charlie Brown,” she said.
The minority leader also said Democrats had already showed they were willing to compromise by accepting the unpopular Keystone XL provision.
Democrats said Republicans had already agreed to a compromise two-month payroll-tax-cut extension and are trying to pull the rug out from under Democrats.
“We already have a bipartisan compromise bill,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) concurred.
“Is there any doubt that Speaker Boehner agreed to this deal?” Hoyer asked. He noted that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had negotiated the short-term extension, and claimed McConnell would never have agreed to it without checking with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) first.
Pelosi said negotiators should reconvene the first week of January to resume talks on a one-year payroll-tax-cut extension once a two-month extension has been put into place.
House Democrats on Tuesday re-introduced the Senate two-month bill, after the original one was sent to conference, and said there are now no procedural reasons why the House cannot immediately approve it.
Democrats said they would remain in Washington throughout the Christmas holiday and spend each day demanding the GOP pass the two-month extension.