Moments after House Republican leaders dug in their heels on blocking a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered his colleagues a path out of the politically damaging position.
Last week the Senate overwhelmingly passed a two-month extension of the 2 percent break, which expires New Year's Day. But House GOP leaders rejected that deal, saying they would only accept a yearlong extension, even though many in their own party have been highly critical of the opposition.
So McConnell (R-Ky.), who negotiated the Senate deal, offered a new idea Thursday, suggesting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) appoint members to a conference committee to work out a longer deal between the two chambers in return for the House passing the two-month stopgap now.
"House Republicans sensibly want greater certainty about the duration of these provisions, while Senate Democrats want more time to negotiate the terms," McConnell said in a statement. "These goals are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both."
"Leader Reid should appoint conferees on the long-term bill and the House should pass an extension that locks in the thousands of Keystone XL pipeline jobs, prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions, and allows Congress to work on a solution for the longer extensions," McConnell continued.