After a month-long standoff with Senate Democrats on how to best prolong the payroll tax holiday, House Republicans begrudgingly reached an agreement Thursday night to extend the cuts affecting 160 million American workers for two more months.
The agreement prevents the tax holiday from expiring on New Year's Eve, an event that would have raised the payroll tax from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent.Â
In statements released shortly after the deal was announced, Tennessee Reps. Chuck Fleischmann and Scott DesJarlais unenthusiastically reiterated their contempt for their political opponents, blaming them for Washington's dysfunction.
Fleischmann, who spent the day in Cleveland working at a Hallmark store for his "On the Job" initiative, said the tax cut should have been for one year instead of two months, and accused President Barack Obama and Democrats for being more interested in re-election efforts than the well-being of the American people.
"Unfortunately, the Senate refused to return from their vacation, and Harry Reid and President Obama lead a pathetic process that has forced a less-than-ideal extension in order to ensure taxes are not raised on the American people," Fleischmann said. "Once again, cheap political points won out over sound public policy."
Last week, both Fleischmann and DesJarlais voted for a House bill that would have extended the tax holiday for a full year, scaled back an air pollution rule, implemented health reforms, reduced the length of unemployment benefits, and prompted President Obama to make a decision regarding the Keystone XL oil pipeline.Â
Earlier in the week, both congressmen opposed the Senate version of the bill, which would have increased the holiday for two months by increasing home mortgage fees. The bill was overwhelmingly passed in a 89-10 vote.
In his statement, DesJarlais said the Senate failed to to do their job and should have passed the bill sent to them from the House.
"Rather than use this bill as a template to work from, the Senate simply refused to take part in the normal legislative process," DesJarlais said. "It is disappointing that since the Senate failed to do their job, we will now have to have this debate again in two months."
The only change between the Senate bill and the measure agreed on was a provision to change certain payroll reporting requirements in favor of small businesses.Â
As part of the agreement, both Republicans and Democrats have also committed to appointing conference committees to come up with a solution for extending the tax holiday for a full year, once the two month deadline expires in February.