The U.S House of Representatives passed H.R. 3765 Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 by unanimous consent.
The Republican leadership of the House blocked passage of this legislation intended to maintain a payroll tax deduction for middle class workers, an extension to unemployment and a Medicare physicians’ reimbursement benefit at current levels. A two-month extension was agreed upon by both parties in the Senate and by Democratic members of the House to allow the two parties to resolve their differences without jeopardizing the financial security of citizens affected by any change in the legislation.
House Republicans, who was had already sent a burdensome version of the bill that rejected by the Senate blocked passage of the extension. The House bill would have permitted mandatory drug testing and voluntary workfare as a requirement for the receipt of benefits, as well as the complete diversion of unemployment insurance funds by states for other state concerns. Finally, Republicans caved to significant public pressure to pass the legislation. Rep. John Lewis made this statement today upon passage of the bill:
“I am glad the Republican leadership of the House finally did what they should have done in the first place. They stopped holding American families hostage during this holiday season and allowed them to breathe a sigh of relief. People who are unemployed know they will have a few more months of benefits. Medicare patients can see their doctors into the new year ,and families will not experience a cut in their income. They can at least look forward to the holidays without additional worries about their futures.
“We are still facing a struggle ahead, however, to resolve differences between the two parties—one which believes it should protect tax cuts for the rich by cutting benefits to the poor and middle class. These benefits are the only lifeline many of these families have during this economic downturn. Democrats believe the rich can afford to pay a little more, especially if it means we will have more resources to offer a modicum of security for families and the elderly who are at risk of falling into poverty.”
Upon final passage of the bill, President Obama left to join his family for Christmas vacation in Hawaii.