In a stunning move, the House Republican leadership postponed a vote planned for late tonight on a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits that passed the Senate with a huge bipartisan majority. Republicans planned to reject the Senate bill today in a gambit to force the upper chamber to come back from recess and pass a longer term extension. But it seemed House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) caucus wasn’t as united as he expected, as there was “a desire among some rank-and-file lawmakers to cast an affirmative vote rather than a negative one” favored by Boehner, Politico reports.
Now, Boehner may resort to procedural tricks to help ensure his desired outcome when the House votes on the package tomorrow. The House will most likely vote on a motion to reject the Senate bill, instead of regular up-or-down vote. That way, Republicans won’t have to outright vote against the payroll tax holiday and Boehner doesn’t risk the measure accidentally passing in case he miscounts his votes.
A tax cut for 160 million Americans and unemployment benefits for millions of others hangs in the balance.
Moments ago, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she would not appoint conferees to a House-Senate conference committee if the House votes to go to a conference instead of approving the compromise Senate bill. Pelosi cited, in part, the House GOP’s use of procedural tricks to avoid an up-or-down on the Senate bill.