Despite being considered dead on arrival in the Senate and doomed for a veto in the White House, Tennessee representatives praised the efforts of their House colleagues to pass a measure on Monday that would extend payroll tax cuts.
The bill, called "The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act," passed in a 234-193 vote. Along with prolonging the payroll tax holiday, it would prompt President Barack Obama to make a decision regarding the Keystone XL oil pipeline, scale back an air pollution rule, reform Obama's health law, and reduce the length of unemployment benefits.Â
The legislation came less than a week after Senate Republicans shot down a proposal that would have paid for the extension by increasing taxes on American singles and couples earning more than $1 million a year. In a report from Politico, the bill was called "largely a message vote."
Following the vote, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann sent out a news release calling the bill's passage a "win for the economy."
"I have long advocated that our economy works best when the people in this country have their own money to spend instead of the government making those decisions," Fleischmann said. "The bill also goes a long way to helping create thousands of jobs through the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, reducing EPA regulations and helping small businesses keep more of their capital. These are the kind of private sector solutions our economy needs right now."
Fleischmann was joined by 4th District Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who said the legislation contained several measures that would be "of significant benefit" to Tennesseans.
"I hope that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will put the American people before politics and allow this legislation to have a fair vote on the Senate floor," DesJarlais said. "These are common sense, bipartisan proposals that will give the American people a badly needed tax break, reform a government program that is rife with waste and abuse, ensure that seniors continue to have access to quality medical care and create badly needed American jobs."
In a statement, Reid called the bill a "pointless, partisan exercise" and suggested that it would be brought to the Senate floor for a vote Wednesday.
"We need to begin real negotiations on how to prevent a $1,000 tax hike on American families," he said. "The sooner we get this vote over with, the sooner those negotiations can begin in earnest."
If Washington lawmakers cannot reach an agreement, the payroll tax cuts are set to expire on Dec. 31.Â