WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has signed legislation extending a payroll tax cut for two months. The action concludes an end-of-year drama that split Republicans and threatened a tax hike on 160 million Americans.
Obama acted Friday after the House and Senate approved the tax cut extension, which will maintain the Social Security tax at 4.2 percent. The legislation also extends unemployment insurance for jobless workers and forces Obama to make a decision within 60 days on whether to permit construction of an oil pipeline opposed by environmental groups.
"I said it was critical for Congress not to go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working Americans and I'm pleased to say that they got it done," a buoyant looking Obama said at the White House before dashing off for his delayed holiday vacation to his home state of Hawaii.
By signing the bill, Obama capped nearly a week-long standoff with House Republicans who demanded a full-year extension. Under a deal reached Thursday, House and Senate leaders named negotiators to begin working on a longer-term bill.
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