By Mike Lillis - 02/16/12 04:55 PM EST
House Democrats will support a bipartisan payroll tax cut deal championed by President Obama, said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday.
Pelosi said she and other members of her party have big concerns with some of the offset provisions in the package — particularly a pension cut for some federal workers — but those reservations aren’t enough to prevent Democrats from backing the bill and delivering an early election-year victory to Obama.
“I don’t see a scenario where our members will vote against it.”
The announcement is good news for House GOP leaders, who will likely need Democratic support to pass the measure, as a number of conservative Republicans are threatening to oppose the bill because it doesn’t offset the $100 billion payroll tax holiday extension.
The bipartisan agreement, secured in the wee hours of Thursday morning, extends the popular payroll tax cut, emergency unemployment benefits and an increase in doctors’ Medicare payments through the end of 2012.
Though the legislative language is not yet finalized — House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that a technical issue still needs ironing out — payroll conference committee leaders said a majority of the conferees had committed their support by early Thursday morning.
Pelosi on Thursday was quick to distance herself from the Democratic conferees, saying “they are on their own” to decide if they’ll endorse the final language.
The early morning agreement presents a problem for House GOP leaders, who adopted rules requiring legislation be posted at least two calendar days before the chamber votes on it. Conference committee leaders had scrambled to secure an agreement Wednesday to set up a Friday vote so members could get out of town before the weekend for their Presidents Day recess.
Boehner on Thursday declined to say how GOP leaders might bend those rules — if at all — to allow a vote before Saturday. But Pelosi, for her part, said she has no problem if Republicans don’t adhere to their two-day rule.
“We should bring it up as soon as possible, so all doubt is removed that we will have a tax cut for 160 million Americans,” she said. “While I would have preferred to have a longer period of time for review, this has been a subject of discussion for a long time.”
— This story was updated at 12:19 p.m.