The House of Representatives completed its business for the day and left for a holiday break, leaving unresolved the fate of a payroll tax cut extension that could mean $1,000 to the average American family when it expires on December 31.
The Republican-controlled House on Tuesday voted to call for the Senate to return from its holiday recess for further talks on the bill it passed with overwhelming bipartisan support on Saturday that would extend the cuts for two months. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid negotiated the bill with Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow more time to reach a deal on a longer extension while avoiding a lapse in the cuts.
House Speaker John Boehner had scheduled a direct vote on the Senate plan on Monday but canceled it and called for a resolution stating House Republicans' disagreement with the two-month extension and calling for the Senate to return for a conference committee. Reid has said the Senat e won't return until the House votes on the Senate's plan.
Boehner later went public with a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to order the Senate back to the Capitol for a conference committee. But Obama made an unscheduled appearance at the daily White House news briefing and accused Republicans of trying to "wring concessions from Democrats on issues that have nothing to do with the payroll tax cut."
The payroll tax cuts affect about 160 million Americans. The Senate bill also extended emergency unemployment benefits and delayed scheduled pay cuts to Medicare physicians for two months.
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