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Reid says millionaire surtax is back on the table in payroll talks

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidFive takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Major overhauls needed to ensure a violent revolution remains fictional Senate heads home to campaign after deal on Trump nominees MORE (D-Nev.) on Friday named four Senate Democrats to negotiate a full-year extension of the payroll tax holiday and said a surtax on millionaires is back on the table in the discussions.

Last week, Senate Democrats dropped their demand to offset the cost of a full-year payroll tax holiday with a surtax on income over a million dollars. 

But on Friday, Reid signaled Democrats will renew the push for the millionaires tax, which Republicans in both chambers strongly oppose.    

“I have instructed in a telephone call with my four senators there’s nothing off the table. Everything’s on the table,” Reid said.


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Reid said several Senate Republican colleagues have told him privately that they could support raising taxes on the wealthy to defray the budget impact.

The quick move by Reid to float the millionaire tax suggests Democrats are prepared to play hardball with the GOP in the next round of talks on the payroll package.  

Reid said he hoped Tea Party-affiliated freshmen had learned their lesson about the art of compromise after one of the most contentious legislative sessions in years.

He picked Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusOvernight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor Judge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester MORE (Mont.), Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Dem senator: Trump accepts Saudi denials because he is 'enamored' with dictators Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP MORE (Md.), Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedLawmakers press Trump to keep Mattis Overnight Defense: Trump asks Turkey for evidence on missing journalist | Key Dem calls for international probe | Five things to know about 'MBS' | Air Force struggles to determine cost of hurricane damage to F-22 jets Trump administration doesn't have ambassadors in Saudi Arabia or Turkey MORE (R.I.) and Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDems target small cluster of states in battle for House Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump officials move to require drug prices in TV ads | 4,000 more people lose Medicaid in Arkansas | New top official for Medicaid Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight MORE Jr. (Pa.) as the Senate Democratic representatives of the conference.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout Sanders: Democrats ‘absolutely’ have chance to win back rural America  Trump privately ready to blame Ryan and McConnell if Republicans lose midterms: report MORE (R-Ky.) will pick three lawmakers to represent his conference.

Reid said he expected conference negotiators to work over the December and January recess. He instructed his staff to get together next week to begin planning for the conference.

“Senate Democrats will get together, there will be a schedule — we’ll work together to come up with a schedule so that during the time we’re out of session, the conferees will still have work to do,” Reid said.  

Cardin represents many federal workers in Maryland and can be expected to strongly oppose proposals to further restrict federal worker pay. 

Reed, whose home state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, is one of the Senate’s most outspoken advocates of extending unemployment benefits.

Reid said he expected a difficult conference with the House, noting that five of the eight appointed House Republican conferees have questioned the value of extending the payroll tax holiday. 

“I’m very disappointed with the conferees that the House has appointed; five of the eight have already spoken out — prior to being appointed — spoke out against extending the payroll tax cut,” Reid said.

One GOP conferee, Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Some ObamaCare premiums to decrease next year | Sanders hits back at Trump over 'Medicare for all' | Panel to investigate rising maternal mortality rates House committee to investigate rising maternal mortality rates How the Trump tax law passed: The final stretch MORE (R-Texas) said earlier this month: “I’m not as big of a fan of the payroll tax cut … and the payroll tax cut, just like the other rebates, has had a marginal impact at best.”

Reid praised McConnell for standing by the compromise measure they negotiated last week to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits for two months.

Reid said he hoped House Republicans, especially Tea Party-affiliated members, would be more receptive to compromise in 2012 after a contentious year of battling over spending cuts and tax increases, which almost shut the government down in April and caused a national default in August. 

“Everything we do around here does not have to wind up in a fight. That’s not the way things need to be,” Reid said. “It seems everything we have done this last year has been a knock-down, drag-out fight. There’s no reason to do that. 

“If there was message received from this last thing we’ve been through, I would hope especially the new members of the House will understand legislation is the art of compromise and consensus-building, not trying to push your way through on issues that you don’t have the support of the American people.”