House Republican leadership is poised to reject a Senate-passed two-month payroll tax extension on Tuesday afternoon, pushing negotiations onto a committee of lawmakers from both chambers.
But if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is pinning his hopes for an 11th hour payroll tax cut deal on a conference committee, he is basically alone. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will not appoint conferees, his office stressed again to The Huffington Post on Tuesday morning.
"[There will be] no negotiations until Boehner follows through and passes the compromise that Senators Reid and McConnell negotiated at his request, and which received 90 percent support in the Senate," said a Senate Democratic leadership aide. "It's shameful that he won't even give it an up or down vote. Hopefully fellow Republicans can prevail upon their wayward colleagues in the House."
Keep in mind, Reid is not refusing to negotiate—he's simply refusing to negotiate in a crisis atmosphere. House Republicans want to relive the glory days of their debt ceiling brinksmanship. Reid is saying that putting the country through more hostage-taking is unacceptable. If House Republicans want to negotiate, they need to do so in the context of a two-month extension. And if they want to kill the payroll tax cut—which apparently, they do—then they should just get it over with already.