House passes payroll tax cut extension bill despite veto threat

The House on Tuesday afternoon approved legislation that extends the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits, but includes several provisions that Democrats vigorously oppose.

Members approved the bill in a 234-193 vote in which 224 Republicans supported it — short of House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFreedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi Stripping opportunity from DC's children Here's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer MORE's (R-Ohio) goal of getting 240 GOP votes, which he said would give the House a "strong hand" in negotiations with Senate Democrats. The bill was opposed by 14 Republicans, but it attracted the support of 10 Democrats.

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The vote sets up the prospect of negotiations with the White House and Senate over how to deal with the bill, as the Senate is not expected to approve it. The House all year has moved to pass critical legislation in order to boost its chances of success in negations with Democrats in the Senate and the White House, and appeared to be following that game plan with today's vote.

For numerous reasons, the bill, H.R. 3630, is controversial with Democrats, who wanted to pay for these extensions through tax increases. The House GOP bill pays for extensions to the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance through reforms and cuts to existing spending, and would also trim discretionary spending by $30 billion over the next decade.

House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) defended these unemployment provisions as needed reforms that would promote work over welfare.

"Why are we making these reforms instead of just passing a straight extension?" he asked on the floor. "Because we know that a paycheck is better than an unemployment check. These bipartisan reforms will help get Americans back to work while providing them with assistance during hard times."


The bill also contains what Democrats see as extraneous language that would speed up the timing of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, and delays pending EPA rules on industrial boilers. Pelosi said Republicans were using the Keystone pipeline issue as a diversion from President Obama's jobs plan.

"It is clear that the Republicans, in using the pipeline, are trying to change the subject," she said.

Republicans said the Keystone language and other provisions answer the demands by Democrats to approve a jobs plan, but Democrats rejected this. Some went so far as to say the GOP wants the bill to fail, as President Obama on Tuesday threatened to veto the bill over the Keystone language.

"So they're bringing a bill to the floor today, which says they're for a payroll-tax cut, but has within it the seeds of its own destruction, because it has poison pills, which they know are not acceptable to the president," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said.

"The House Republicans have designed a bill to fail," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said. "They say they're for extending the payroll-tax cut for middle-class Americans, they say they want to help the unemployed, but yet they demand a ransom in order for us to get this passed."

Like Camp, House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) insisted that the various provisions in the bill are not poison pills, but real reforms aimed at trimming federal spending in light of the ongoing fiscal crisis.

"The idea of saying that we want to encourage those who are unemployed to move towards a GED does not seem to me to be a poison pill," Dreier said of one of the reforms to the unemployment insurance program that Democrats opposed. "The idea of saying that we should have drug testing … so that people who are receiving these unemployment benefits are not using those resources to purchase drugs is obviously not a poison pill."

Democrats more generally complained about the process Republicans used to bring up a bill that had no input from Democrats. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Republicans reneged on there promise not to attack controversial language to must-pass bills.

"That apparently was a campaign pledge not to be honored in practice," he said, adding that he would be "shocked" if anyone read the bill.

"If Republicans were serious, truly serious about trying to come together on behalf of American families, they would have reached out to Democrats in this House," House Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said. "They've done nothing of the sort. They've made a sham out of bipartisanship."

House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) predicted Democrats would win back the House once the nation sees the "Keystone Kops" way Republicans have managed the House, and based on this, introduced two subcommittee ranking members as the future chairmen of those subcommittees.

Democrats used every trick in the book to slow House consideration of the bill. Before the rule for the bill was debated, Democrats raised a point of order against the bill. Later, they put forward a motion to recommit the bill, usually a 30 minute delay before passage. But this time, Democrats insisted that a good chunk of the lengthy motion be read out loud, which delayed the final vote even more.

Democrats voting "yes" were Reps. John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Republican wins Georgia secretary of state runoff to replace Kemp The most important runoff election is one you probably never heard of MORE (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell BraleyThe Memo: Trump attacks on Harris risk backfiring 2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster OPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP MORE (Iowa), Dennis Cardoza (Calif.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySupreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Republicans fret over divisive candidates Everybody wants Joe Manchin MORE (Ind.), Dave Loebsack (Iowa), Jim MathesonJames (Jim) David MathesonMcAdams concedes to Owens in competitive Utah district Trump EPA eases standards for coal ash disposal Utah redistricting reform measure likely to qualify for ballot MORE (Utah), Mike Ross (Ark.), and Tim Walz (Minn.).

Republicans voting against it were Reps. Justin AmashJustin AmashAmash warns of turning lawmakers like Cheney into 'heroes' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Biden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' MORE (Mich.), Joe Barton (Texas), Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksEx-Sen. Jones rips Mo Brooks over 'irony' remark on Texas Democrats getting COVID-19 Justice in legal knot in Mo Brooks, Trump case Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up MORE (Ala.), John Campbell (Calif.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE (Ariz.), Jeff FortenberryJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FortenberryUS delegation departs Haiti after reports of gunshots at ex-president's funeral Biden announces delegation to attend Haitian president's funeral Recovering America through the lens of wildlife MORE (Neb.), Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Biz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations MORE (NJ), Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonCornell to launch new bipartisan publication led by former Rep. Steve Israel Trump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul Several hurt when truck runs into minimum wage protesters in Michigan MORE (Ill.), Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisRepublicans raise concerns about Olympians using digital yuan during Beijing Games GOP senators invite Yellen to brief them on debt ceiling expiration, inflation Senate Republicans urge CDC to lift public transportation mask mandate MORE (Wyo.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court rules that pipeline can seize land from New Jersey | Study: EPA underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas development | Kevin McCarthy sets up task forces on climate, other issues Bipartisan lawmakers back clean electricity standard, but fall short of Biden goal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel MORE (W.Va.), Randy NeugebauerRobert (Randy) Randolph NeugebauerCordray announces he's leaving consumer bureau, promotes aide to deputy director GOP eager for Trump shake-up at consumer bureau Lobbying World MORE (Texas), Frank WolfFrank Rudolph WolfBottom line Africa's gathering storm DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling MORE (Va.), and Rob WoodallWilliam (Rob) Robert WoodallThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns McCarthy guarantees GOP will take back House in 2022 Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day MORE (Ga.).

Presidential candidates Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannBoehner says he voted for Trump, didn't push back on election claims because he's retired Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers Boehner finally calls it as he sees it MORE (R-Minn.) did not vote.

— This story was updated at 7:21 p.m.