Idaho Congressmen Mike Simpson and Raúl Labrador voted today to convene a conference committee to negotiate differences between the House and Senate versions of legislation to extend the payroll tax holiday, as well as unemployment insurance.
Last week, both Idaho Congressmen supported legislation to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits, prevent a decrease in the Medicare reimbursement rate, and move forward with the Keystone XL energy pipeline for a full-year. That bi-partisan measure was fully offset by cuts in spending to other programs and passed the House by a vote of 234-193.
Instead of taking up and passing their own full-year extension as President Obama had urged them to do, the Senate passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday and left Washington, DC for their own holiday. Simpson and Labrador believe a two-month extension fails to provide certainty to job providers and creates a burdensome record-keeping and tax compliance headache for American businesses and workers.
“I am disappointed the Senate chose to leave town without working with the House to finalize a year-long extension of these important provisions,” said Congressman Mike Simpson. “The actions of the Senate do nothing to stimulate job growth, create an onerous burden on American businesses and workers, and generate even more uncertainty for job creators at a time when we can least afford it. I am glad the House has rejected this effort and is calling on the Senate to return to Washington where we can work out our differences in a traditional conference committee.”
“The American people are tired of temporary tax gimmicks and demand significant tax reform. They are tired of Washington’s ‘business as usual,’ where legislation is aimed only to provide voters with passing reprieve to ensure incumbency,” said Labrador. “I opposed the Senate’s version of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance extensions because not only did it last a mere two months instead of a year, but it also eliminated critical reforms necessary to improve the entitlements system.”
Labrador continued, “Our friends on the other side of the aisle often complain that conservatives resist compromise. I argue there is no greater agent of compromise than the traditional process of the Conference Committee. If Senate Democrats are serious about providing relief to America’s middle class, they will return to Capitol Hill next week to develop a workable compromise with House Republicans.”
Congressman Simpson served as Speaker Pro-Tempore during the debate, and Congressman Labrador gave a two-minute speech on the floor. Click here to view a video of Labrador’s address.
In addition to rejecting the Senate-passed, two-month extension, the House today passed a Resolution expressing the sentiment of the House that any measure to extend the payroll tax and other provisions include the following:
- A full-year extension of the payroll tax holiday;
- An extension of, and reforms to, Federally-funded unemployment benefits;
- A two-year elimination of dramatic cuts to Medicare physician reimbursements;
- A reduction in spending to other programs to protect the Social Security Trust Fund;
- Provisions to encourage job creation through the final approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and others measures.
House members are calling on the Senate to join them in a traditional conference committee where differences on a full-year extension can be worked out and sent to the President for his signature prior to January 1, 2012.