Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – While both Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson supported a temporary payroll tax cut extension; Florida’s house delegation rejected the bill along party lines.
Now, with fewer than 10 days to go before the payroll tax cut expires; the House of Representatives is caught in a no-win situation that has Republican and Democratic Senators lambasting the House leadership and members for their handling of the situation.
The latest salvo came Wednesday morning when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose chamber has already adjourned for the year, offered to begin negotiations on a full-year extension on the tax cut as soon as the House passes the temporary extension to move past the holiday season.
For Speaker of the House John Boehner, he is caught in the middle of extremist members of his caucus and the more moderate wings of the GOP in the Senate.
“To do something every two months, and go back there and do it again and again by two month increments is just crazy,” Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told CBS4′s Gary Nelson.
According to Reid’s letter, Boehner requested that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would work with Reid to find common ground. That happened fairly quickly and last Friday, the Senate passed the temporary extension with the goal of negotiating a full-year extension after the holidays.
But, led by some of the most conservative wings of the House, the GOP faced a revolt and Boehner had to come out against the plan.
“The Tea Party extremists in the House of Representatives, in the Republican Party, only want to do things their way and they don’t care about working families and they proved that yesterday,” said Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
It was a direct slap at the Senate and both Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell.
McConnell would come out on Sunday and said that he supported the House’s move, but that was long after the Senate passed the temporary extension by an 89-10 bipartisan margin.
Ros-Lehtinen said the blame for the tax increase spurred by the House’s refusal to cut a deal is the fault of the Senate.
“The Senate does not want to go along with what we want to do, but that’s what conference committees are about,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “We need to negotiate, and people are fed up with us.”
And that feeling is readily evident in the minds of South Florida voters.
“It’s really sad that Congress can’t get it together and get this payroll tax worked out for us hard-working Americans,” said John Dubois, service manager at the Beacon Auto Care shop in Doral. “That money helps me buy toys and pay for diapers and put food on the table.”
If the payroll tax cut ends, it would add approximately $1,000 to the taxes paid by employees in the coming year.
Reid’s move making a formal offer to negotiate the full-year extension after the temporary extension is passed puts the House in an untenable position. The House either can accept the bipartisan deal and move on or run the risk of facing the voters’ wrath for opposing a tax cut during tough economic times.
House Republicans faced another line of fire Wednesday when the conservative Wall Street Journal ran an editorial that blasted the House for their actions and said that their move to reject the extension may have guaranteed a re-election for President Barack Obama.