WASHINGTON — The Minnesota House delegation voted along party lines Tuesday as the House rejected the payroll tax cut plan the Senate passed this weekend.
The House voted 229-193 to send the bill to a conference committee, which is essentially a rejection of the Senate’s two-month payroll tax cut extension that passed 89-10 on Saturday. If the House has its way, a group of House and Senate members will now work on forging a compromise bill that can pass both chambers and win President Barack Obama’s approval before the end of the year.
Minnesota Republicans John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Chip Cravaack supported the measure; Democrats Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison and Tim Walz voted against it. Michele Bachmann, campaigning for president in Iowa, did not vote.
House Republicans have opposed the two-month extension, calling for a one-year tax holiday in order to provide more stability for the economy and prevent a further battle over the issue in February. By voting to send the bill to a conference committee instead of outright rejecting the Senate’s bill, Republicans were able to rebuff the Senate without recording a vote against a tax cut, a delicate political move that won the support of all but seven Republicans and no Democrats.
“We’re truly much more concerned about getting policy right … than about the political calculus,” Minnesota Rep. John Kline told MPR Tuesday morning before the vote. “This is the right thing to do based on what’s best for our constituents.”
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he has no plans to call the Senate back to Washington (they’re on recess until Jan. 23) and won’t negotiate with House Republicans on a longer-term extension unless they support the Senate bill. Democrats at large have lambasted House Republicans as obstructionists who are risking a tax increase by insisting they get their way, especially in light of the broad Senate Republican support for the two-month plan.
Rep. Keith Ellison tweeted after the vote: “Rs won’t take “yes” – refusing to take up bipartisan bill passed by Senate majority, blocking up/down vote.”
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.