McConnell names his conferees for talks on payroll-tax cut

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellUnder pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support Overnight Healthcare: Trump threatens to leave ObamaCare in place if GOP bill fails Senate GOP hedges on ObamaCare repeal timeline MORE named a trio of GOP senators to the payroll tax conference committee on Friday, filling the remaining slots on the panel.

McConnell named Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber; John BarrassoJohn BarrassoOvernight Energy: Trump's Keystone XL approval coming soon Overnight Finance: Senators spar over Wall Street at SEC pick's hearing | New CBO score for ObamaCare bill | Agency signs off on Trump DC hotel lease GOP senators offer bill to require spending cuts with debt-limit hikes MORE of Wyoming; and Mike CrapoMike CrapoSenators war over Wall Street during hearing for Trump's SEC pick Overnight Finance: Biz groups endorse Trump's Labor pick | New CBO score coming before health bill vote | Lawmakers push back on public broadcasting cuts Senate Banking panel seeks proposals for economic growth MORE of Idaho to the 20-member committee, which will attempt to hash out a yearlong extension of the payroll tax cut and also deal with Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors and federal unemployment benefits.

The House and Senate passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut last week, a measure that also requires the White House to make a decision on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline within 60 days.

“As we move into the new year, it’s crucial for everyone to realize that, once this temporary extension is behind us, the larger goal is to move beyond a discussion of temporary assistance, and toward a bipartisan plan to get our economy moving again, reform the tax code, and preserve and protect entitlement programs for future generations,” McConnell said in a Friday statement.

The conference committee comes after lawmakers had a roller coaster of a December dealing with the 2 percentage point payroll tax cut, which was first enacted during last year’s compromise to extend the Bush tax rates and would have expired at year’s end.

Earlier in the month, House Republicans passed a yearlong extension of the payroll tax cut, which also included the Keystone XL provision and a delay of environmental rules.

But the Senate eventually passed a bipartisan two-month extension, once it seemed unlikely that a longer deal could be completed by the end of December.

And while the House at first continued to press for a yearlong agreement to be completed this month, GOP leaders eventually caved amid pressure from Senate Republicans and other conservative leaders.

The conference committee marks just the latest high-profile appointment for Kyl, who is not seeking reelection next year. The Arizona Republican has already served on the deficit-reduction group led by Vice President Biden and on the failed supercommittee.

Crapo is a member of both the tax-writing Finance Committee and the bipartisan “Gang of Six.”

Barrasso, recently chosen to be the No. 4 Senate Republican, is a physician and becomes the latest GOP healthcare professional appointed to a conference committee that will take up the Medicare “doc fix.”

Reps. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.), also doctors, have been appointed as House conferees, as has Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), a nurse.

McConnell’s picks for conferees come days after other congressional leaders chose their representatives.

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerGOP rushes to vote without knowing full impact of healthcare plan Dem senator to reintroduce ‘buy American’ legislation GOP senators offer bill to require spending cuts with debt-limit hikes MORE (R-Ohio) has tapped a pair of committee chairman among his conferees: Reps. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee; and Fred Upton (R-Mich), who helms the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) along with Ellmers and Hayworth are the committee's freshmen. Reps. Kevin BradyKevin BradyThe right approach to promoting competition in the health care marketplace GOP rushes to vote without knowing full impact of healthcare plan Overnight Healthcare: Trump threatens to leave ObamaCare in place if GOP bill fails MORE (R-Texas) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) are also on the panel.

The Democrats on the committee are: Sen. Max BaucusMax BaucusGOP hasn’t reached out to centrist Dem senators Five reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination MORE of Montana, the Finance chairman; Sen. Ben CardinBen CardinSenators introduce new Iran sanctions Senate confirms Trump's pick for Israel ambassador Rand Paul roils the Senate with NATO blockade MORE of Maryland; Sen. Bob CaseyBob CaseyUnder pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Friends, foes spar in fight on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE Jr. of Pennsylvania; Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedSenators demand Pentagon action after nude photo scandal Mattis on defense budget boost: 'America can afford survival' Overnight Regulation: Dems punch back in fight over CEO pay rule MORE of Rhode Island; Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraEye on 2018: Five special elections worth watching Blue states rush to block Trump’s emissions rollback Overnight Regulation: Trump faces big decision on regulatory chief MORE of California; Rep. Sandy Levin of Michigan; Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania; Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland; and Rep. Henry Waxman of California.