House to Meeting on Payroll Tax Plan Which Includes Hike in Mortgage Fees

The latest on the payroll tax extension from CNN. For those in the mortgage and real estate industries, the only problem is–they are not arguing about the validity of hiking FHA and conforming loan fees to pay for it.  Both sides seem to be on board with that. 

The House will meet Monday to consider modifying a Senate bill on a temporary payroll tax cut extension or pass a motion to send the issue to conference committee, a statement from the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, said.

An earlier House version of the payroll tax measure lacked support in the Senate and never came up for a vote there.

The development comes as House Speaker John Boehner said that he opposed a temporary extension, saying the two-month plan passed by the Senate merely delays the issue.

Boehner, R-Ohio, urged Congress Sunday to continue negotiations to come up with a compromise that would extend the current payroll tax rate for a full year, as the Obama administration wants.

“Two months is just kicking the can down the road. The American people are tired of that,” Boehner told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He said both the Senate and the House of Representatives should work out their differences and pass a one-year extension.

But congressional Democratic leaders said the Republican-led House would be blamed for a year-end increase in working Americans’ tax bills if it failed to go along with the Senate. The White House chimed in Sunday, noting that the current rates expire in less than two weeks.

“As the president said … it is inexcusable to do anything less than extend this tax cut for the entire year, and Congress must work on a one-year deal,” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a written statement.

Pfeiffer pointed out that Boehner had called the two-month extension a “good deal” only Saturday.

“It’s time House Republicans stop playing politics and get the job done for the American people,” he said.

The payroll tax break, which averages about $1,000 a year for an average family, runs out at the end of the year unless Congress votes to extend it. The battle extends beyond the usual Democratic-Republican wars to also include a face-off between the House and Senate over their respective plans that so far have been unable to win support in both chambers.

CNNMoney: What happens if payroll tax cut is not extended?

The Democratic-led Senate passed the two-month extension Saturday with an 89-10 vote, with support from most of the chamber’s GOP minority. That was a fallback position after Democrats and Republicans were unable to reach a comprehensive agreement to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for a full year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said in a statement Sunday that Boehner had earlier left it to Senate leaders to come up with a deal, and now was changing his tune after the Senate easily adopted the two-month extension.

“Neither side got everything they wanted, but we forged a middle ground that passed the Senate by an overwhelming bipartisan majority,” Reid said. “If Speaker Boehner refuses to vote on the bipartisan compromise that passed the Senate with 89 votes, Republicans will be forcing a thousand-dollar tax increase on middle class families on January 1st.”

In addition, a Senate Democratic aide told CNN the chances were “zero” that the Senate would reconvene from its holiday recess to continue negotiating with the House on the issue.

Does House want to move forward? Two senators debate that question

Gene Sperling, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council and Obama’s assistant on economic policy, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the Senate’s strong bipartisan support for its two-month plan made House rejection unlikely.

“The only things that get 90% support in the United States Senate these days are mom, apple pie, and chocolate ice cream, so I really think it is very unlikely that the House would disrupt this compromise,” Sperling said.

The Senate measure is the latest in a series of last-ditch temporary fixes, in this case seeking to postpone another legislative showdown until February, when the bill’s provisions would expire.

However, it requires approval by the House, and Boehner’s comments indicated rejection by House Republicans, especially conservatives who don’t like the payroll tax extension in any form.

Under the current party breakdown in the House, at least 26 Republicans would have to join a unanimous Democratic minority to pass the Senate measure. Any slippage in Democratic support would require more Republican backing.

Boehner apparently reversed himself since a conference call with caucus members Saturday, when he was the only House Republican leader to express support for the Senate plan, according to a GOP source.

The source said Boehner described the Senate vote as “a good deal” and “a victory” in the conference call, and that Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole and North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones also expressed support.

However, Cantor disagreed during the call, saying he thought the package should be extended for a full year, the Republican source said.

“The rank-and-file members are extremely opposed to it,” said the GOP source, adding that most members were concerned with the uncertainty caused by just a two-month extension, as well as the political benefit the White House could gain in the national dialogue over taxes.


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