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McCain: Payroll-tax fight ‘harming the Republican Party’

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the failure of the House to approve the bipartisan Senate bill to extend the payroll-tax cut is “harming the Republican Party.”

Speaking Tuesday on CNN’s “Situation Room,” McCain said that while it’s inevitable that the tax cut will ultimately be extended, the infighting reflects poorly on Republicans and Congress as a whole.

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“It is harming the Republican Party. It is harming the view, if it’s possible anymore, of the American people about Congress,” McCain said. “We’ve got to get this resolved and with the realization that the payroll-tax cut must remain in effect.”

McCain called on both parties to reconvene now that Republicans voted to send the Senate bill to conference committee, rather than to the House floor for a vote.

“I think we have to recognize reality, and that is that we are not going to see the payroll-tax cut expire on the 1st of January, and we have to accommodate to that reality,” McCain said. “It would not be fair to the American people at this time, and so it seems to me that Republican leaders and [Senate Democratic Leader] Harry Reid [Nev.] and [House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)] and [House Democratic Leader Nancy] Pelosi [Calif.] should sit down together with the administration and figure out a way through this.”

McCain was one of 89 senators who overwhelmingly voted to extend the payroll-tax cut through February to give the sides more time to come to an agreement on how to pay for it. House Republicans say that debate should happen now.

Some GOP senators — a number of whom are up for re-election next year — have blasted House Republican leaders for not getting rank-and-file members to back the Senate bill.

“It angers me that House Republicans would rather continue playing politics than find solutions,” centrist Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) said in a news release. “Their actions will hurt American families and be detrimental to our fragile economy. We are Americans first; now is not the time for drawing lines in the sand.”