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Republican House defies Obama, White House threatens veto

Wednesday December 14, 2011 12:16:22 PM, Arun Kumar, IANS

Washington: Defying President Barack Obama, the Republican controlled House of Representatives passed a plan to extend the payroll tax cut linking it to approval of an oil pipeline. But the White House threatened to veto it.

The bill, approved Tuesday on a 234-193 vote largely on party lines, now goes to the Democratic controlled Senate, where it was unlikely to pass due to strong opposition from Democratic leaders. But if it does reach his desk, Obama will veto the plan, White House said, as Congress prepared to leave Washington for its holiday recess at the end of the week.

"This Congress needs to do its job and stop the tax hike that's scheduled to affect 160 million Americans in 18 days," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement after the vote. "This is not a time for Washington Republicans to score political points against the president."

The impasse involves a convergence of major issues, including the payroll tax-cut extension and a spending bill that must pass in order to keep the government funded after Friday.

Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agreed that Congress must not go home for the holidays without extending the payroll tax cut that saves working Americans an average of $1,000 a year, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

Without spelling out a specific order of necessary steps, Carney made clear that Obama wants Congress to approve both a payroll tax plan and the broad government spending bill.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell characterized the Democratic stance as a threat to delay action on the spending plan until a compromise is reached on the payroll tax cut measure. That could cause a government shutdown after Friday, McConnell warned.

Carney, however, insisted that Congress has plenty of time to act on all of the outstanding measures, and called for a payroll tax extension free of the pipeline provision.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at






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