The state’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives blasted the Republican majority’s vote Tuesday to block a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.
The House voted 229-193 to reject a measure that was overwhelmingly passed in the Senate, 89-10, last week. The Senate deal received support from 39 Republicans, including minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who brokered the temporary extension with the Democratic majority.
On Tuesday, after a heated floor debate, the GOP majority in the House spurned the Senate bill amid rhetoric that it wanted a yearlong extension. The vote forces a conference committee between both bodies to negotiate a deal.
However, with the Senate essentially adjourned for the year, the vote brings Congress closer to the deadline that allows the tax cut for 160 million American workers to expire at the end of the year. It also threatens the extension of unemployment benefits.
Those issues were front and center Tuesday for Democrats and Republicans who unloaded familiar rhetorical arguments over a component of President Obama’s jobs package.
Democrats accused House Republicans of caving to its tea party freshmen, who rejected the deal because they have consistently opposed short-term spending.
Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, in a statement, blamed the outcome on partisanship.
“This brinkmanship is why Americans have such a low opinion of Congress right now,” Michaud said in a release. “It’s wrong to play political games with these policies that impact millions of American families.”
Michaud said he would have preferred a one-year agreement, however, it was “irresponsible of House leadership to work to reject this bipartisan bill. It’s a temporary extension that will provide time to reach a longer-term agreement.”
He added, “It’s infuriating how out of touch Congress is right now.”
Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, anticipated the proposal’s defeat. In a release, Pingree said that “tea party Republicans seem determined to block the extension of these important programs at any cost.”
“While American families are struggling to make ends meet, the House Republicans are pushing a tax increase that will cost the average family $1,000,” she said.
The tax cut in place was part of the Bush tax cuts passed by Congress last year. It reduces the employee portion of the Social Security tax by 2 percent.
According to the Tax Policy Center, the cut has resulted in an average savings of $900 per American household. However, opponents worry that the cut raids the Social Security Fund.
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