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House Republicans Start Bolting from Boehner, Seek Passage of Senate Payroll Tax Stopgap

Seven House Republicans did not vote with the leadership on Monday to reject the Senate’s payroll tax/UI/doc fix stopgap bill and go to conference. Sean Duffy, the Wisconsin freshman in a tough district for 2012, wasn’t one of them. But now he is calling for passage of the Senate bill:

“I’ve said all along I’d be willing to support a two-month payroll tax cut extension if that was our only option,” Duffy said in a news release issued this afternoon.

“Of course, I still believe middle class families would be better served by the certainty of a one-year payroll tax holiday, but this isn’t about proving a point. This is about preventing hardworking Wisconsin families from paying an extra $40 a week for the dysfunction in Washington, D.C.”

Note the $40 a week reference, which the White House has pushed very hard this week, collecting tens of thousands of stories from people talking about how they’ve used that extra $40 a paycheck for necessities.

Duffy is not alone. Via Greg Sargent, Rick Crawford (R-AR) appealed to House Speaker John Boehner to just pass the Senate bill:

These past few days I have met with my constituents in Arkansas’s First District, they are angry and they don’t understand why Congress cannot sit down, hammer out our differences, and have a solution we can all support. My constituents are honest, hard-working people who deserve a Congress that will put partisan politics aside in favor of the greater good. Congress must come together and act to ensure that my constituents, and millions of Americans all across the country, are not hit with higher taxes on January 1st […]

We are now in a position that requires all options to be on the table, that requires Republicans to not only demand a willingness to compromise, but to offer it as well.

That one’s more opaque, but the implication is that passing the stopgap would show a “willingness to compromise.”

By the way, unemployed workers who could see their benefits lapse if nothing is done by the end of the year are picketing Boehner’s district office in West Chester today.

So far, Boehner has resisted the entreaties from the White House, Senate Democrats, conservative opinion leaders and even Mitch McConnell. But I don’t see how he can hold out much longer. There are a few different options here that wouldn’t even require anyone to come back to Washington. Democrats plan to try and call up the Senate bill in tomorrow’s pro forma session, much like they did yesterday, to embarrassing results. The presiding officer of the House could just allow that through unanimous consent, and without any objection, it would pass and go on to the President. Another option is to pass with unanimous consent some alteration, like the three-month stopgap that House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp suggested. The Senate could dispense with that in their pro forma session. These pro forma sessions to block recess appointments (which won’t even totally work) turn out to be very convenient in this case.

I wrote about the underlying economics of the payroll tax, extended unemployment benefits and the doctor’s fix earlier today.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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