House leaders have agreed to a two-month extension of Social Security payroll tax cuts and federal unemployment benefits, GOP aides said Thursday.
The move reflects a retreat by House Republicans and appears to all but assure 160 million workers aren't hit by a 2 percentage point increase in the payroll tax on Jan. 1.
House leaders were to brief rank-and-file lawmakers on the proposal on a conference call later Thursday.
The bill also requires a decision from the Obama Administration on the Keystone XL pipeline within months.
“With many Americans facing high unemployment and underemployment, I’m pleased that the House found a path to a short-term fix for thousands of Americans. Their vote allows us a little bit of breathing room until we can work out a full year solution,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski in a statement. “But as millions of Americans look for work, this also puts the ball in the President’s court for the Keystone XL project, which could mean up to 20,000 jobs and less dependence on oil from the Middle East.”
Senator Mark Begich said this is a step in the right direction but more work needs to be done.
“We need to have more permanency to this. Just having one year to the next is important for this economy, but we really need to restructure the tax system in this country. It had fallen apart in many ways and hasn't been revised since 1986,” said Senator Begich at a Thursday afternoon press conference.
Representative Don Young’s office sent in this statement: “While Congressman Young is pleased that during this holiday season the American people won't see a tax increase, he is disappointed in the way in which this played out. The public expects more of Congress and he hopes that the tone of the discussion is more productive in February when we have to extend the payroll tax again.”
Under the arrangement, the House will pass a bill mirroring one already passed by the Senate.