Boehner sticks to his guns as Senate Republican leader McConnell urges swift action

Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks to the media before a meeting with the conference committee on the payroll tax cut on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011 in Washington. From left, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., Boehner, Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., and Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

UPDATED 11:38 a.m. ET

Amid growing pressure to agree to a bipartisan Senate plan to extend the payroll tax cuts for just two months, House Speaker John Boehner Thursday doubled down on his strategy of calling for a re-opening of negotiations over how long a popular tax cut should be extended.

"Everybody has already agreed that the best policy is a one-year extension," Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill, urging Democrats to name representatives to a panel of lawmakers to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation.

But the two sides cannot agree on how best to pay for the one-year extension, so the two sides in the Senate agreed to extend it for two months to give lawmakers more time to hash out a deal.

If the pressure of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and former Bush adviser Karl Rove was not enough to force Boehner's hand to the short-term deal , Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday called for Boehner to pass the two-month extension while also calling on Democrats to name their negotiators.

"These goals are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both," said McConnell, who had largely remained silent on Boehner's spat with Senate Republicans plus President Obama and the Democrats.

The call from McConnell could change the dynamic for Boehner, who reportedly first wanted to back the Senate short-term compromise but changed course after conservative members of his party revolted on Saturday and said they could not back the Senate bill.

House Republicans have painted themselves into a corner on the extension of the payroll tax cut passed last year to help spur the economy by putting a little extra cash into the pockets of millions of Americans.

Rove, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, said House Republicans "have lost the optics on it," and "the question now is how do the Republicans get out of it."

Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp, who heads the committee responsible for tax policy, floated the idea that House Republicans could support a three-month extension.

The payroll tax affects about 160 million Americans and it was cut a year ago in an effort to stimulate the economy with a little extra cash in people's pockets. Many conservative Republicans are skeptical of the macroeconomic benefits of the payroll tax cut.

Mark Zandi, an influential economist who served as an adviser to the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, has said the economy could fall back into recession if the payroll tax cut is not extended.

  • Corbett Daly On Twitter»

    CBSNews.com Deputy Politics Editor Corbett B. Daly is based in Washington. He has worked at Reuters, Thomson Financial News and CBS MarketWatch.

Comments