“The omnibus bill has been agreed to by Republicans and Democrats,” he said.
Even if conferees sign a report, it may not move forward immediately because of the payroll-tax politics.
The Republican-controlled House will vote around 6 p.m. on a GOP version of a bill to extend the payroll-tax holiday for one year; to modify, extend, and overhaul federal unemployment insurance; and to prevent a scheduled reduction in Medicare pay to doctors.
But Democrats, who control the Senate, would revamp the measure, including many of the Republicans’ spending offsets.
They instead back a version that would incorporate Obama’s plan to pay for the cost of extending the payroll-tax cut and unemployment with a surtax on annual incomes exceeding $1 million, Reid said. The Senate Democrats' plan would also make some changes to the federal unemployment system without slashing the length of benefits. The package will include about $35 billion in tax extenders that benefit businesses, teachers and individuals, Reid said.
Democrats also oppose a number of items they are calling “poison pills” in the GOP plan, such as its fast-tracking approval of the controversial Keystone pipeline.
The worry for Democrats is that once both chambers approve the must-pass spending measure, House Republicans will depart from Washington for the year and leave Senate Democrats--essentially--with a take-it-or-leave-it choice on passing the GOP payroll-tax-extender package.
Boehner told reporters on Monday that all of the funding proposals in the GOP package have been discussed before. “Ninety percent of the offsets are offsets that have come from the administration,” Boehner said. “I don’t see any real objections to the pay-fors that are in our bill.”
Nonetheless, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he will push his members to vote against that package, calling it a “partisan bill sticking the finger in the eye of those who disagree with the non-germane policies that are included simply for the purposes of energizing a small political base in their party.”
A few hours later, the White House backed up Hoyer with a veto threat.
Hoyer said that Republicans mean to appease “the narrowest base of any party” he has seen in his 45-year political career with provisions regarding the Keystone pipeline and industrial-boiler regulations.
“If they’re going to pass this one, they are going to need 218 Republicans,” he said.
Hoyer said a “rational, appropriate way to pay for” the package exists in the aforementioned millionaires' surtax. “It asks those who are the best off in our country to participate, to make a contribution--not to sacrifice--towards helping America right itself from a fiscal prospective,” Hoyer said.
In a statement of administration policy issued on Tuesday afternoon, the Office of Management and Budget said: "If the president were presented with [the House plan] he would veto the bill."
Heading into Tuesday's vote on the package, known as the Middle Class Tax Cut Act, House Republican leaders said they are confident not only that it will pass, but that it will attract some Democratic votes.
“I believe that it will pass with bipartisan support today,” Boehner said. “I look forward to the Senate taking up our bill and passing it."
Boehner could barely contain his glee after meeting with members of his conference Tuesday morning. Singing “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” the speaker grinned as he approached a gaggle of reporters before taking on Senate Democrats and the White House for refusing to get behind the bill.
Yet while leadership is publicly confident that the bill will pass, that doesn't mean they have the entire conference lined up behind it.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., widely seen as representing the more conservative wing of the conference, gave only a lukewarm statement at what turned into a GOP leadership pep rally following the meeting.
The bill, Cantor said, is “not our dream proposal—believe me—but it is and does represent a compromise.”
Indeed, “there definitely are still people who are officially undecided,” according to freshman Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., a supporter of the bill.
Boehner has a lot personally riding on passage; he has frequently tussled with his restive conference since Republicans became the majority at the beginning of the year.
Katy O'Donnell; Ben Terris; Dan Friedman