Times staff writer Marc Heller reports:
WASHINGTON – As the House began a series of votes today on extending a payroll tax break, Rep. William L. Owens questioned whether the House Republican leadership is really after the compromise that would prevent a tax hike on Jan. 1.
Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said the House should accept the bipartisan deal reached in the Senate last week to extend the tax break for two months and buy time to work out how to pay for the one-year extension that he and most other lawmakers support.
He cast the GOP leadership's position as a “schoolyard” tactic: “I don't like what happened, so I want a do-over.”
“It's very juvenile,” Mr. Owens said in an interview during a break in procedural votes.
A vote on the main issue, whether to request a conference with the Senate to resolve the matter, was expected early this afternoon.
Mr. Owens said he reads the Republicans' tactic as asking for a conference but refusing to put forth a compromise that could form the basis for such discussions. If that remains the case, he said, he doubts the Senate's Democratic majority will agree to return to session to reconsider the issue.
But House Republicans said a two month extension doesn't give taxpayers much certainty and they criticized Senate leaders for working in secret to reach their deal.
“Enough is enough,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, during debate this morning. “There is a new dawn that has emerged in this chamber.”