House Speaker John Boehner said he thinks Republicans and Democrats in Congress will agree to a payroll tax-cut extension.
“We are in a formal conference with the Senate, and I’m confident that we’ll be able to resolve this fairly quickly,” the Ohio Republican said on ABC’s “This Week” program today.
A short-term extension of the payroll tax cut expires Feb. 29. The two parties disagree on how to pay for the plan and whether all the costs must be offset. Unless Congress acts, the 2 percentage point payroll tax break for employees will lapse, as will emergency unemployment benefits.
Congressional Republicans have blocked efforts over the past year to impose a surtax on income exceeding $1 million to pay for the extension. A House-Senate conference committee aimed at breaking the deadlock on the extension is scheduled to meet again Feb. 1.
President Barack Obama, in his Jan. 24 State of the Union address, called on Congress to approve the tax cut, urging “no side issues. No drama.”
Boehner told ABC that a provision approving the Keystone XL pipeline will be attached to legislation that would expand oil and gas drilling if the pipeline isn’t approved first.
Last month, Republicans succeeded in adding language to the short-term payroll tax-cut extension agreement requiring Obama to decide on the pipeline within 60 days.
Obama rejected the permit on Jan. 18, saying the deadline didn’t leave enough time to consider alternatives to the original pipeline route, which went through the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region in Nebraska.
The lawmakers now are backing a bill that would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the permit within 30 days, so long as it meets safety requirements.
TransCanada Corp., based in Calgary, is pushing for a $7 billion pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Asked whether the Republican-controlled House should coordinate its actions with the Democratic Senate before passing legislation that senators won’t approve, Boehner said that “we can’t control what the Senate does or doesn’t do.”
“It’s time for the Senate to do their job,” he said.
--With assistance from Jim Snyder in Washington. Editors: Ann Hughey, Christian Thompson.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Katz in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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