In a blow to House Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called on the House to pass a two-month payroll tax extension — while pushing Democrats to negotiate a full year extension of the tax break.
McConnell’s statement came just 30 minutes after Speaker John Boehner pledged that he and House Republicans weren’t backing down from their push for a one year extension of the tax, which expires Dec. 31. [...]
“The House should pass an extension that locks in the thousands of Keystone XL pipeline jobs, prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions, and allows Congress to work on a solution for the longer extensions,” McConnell said in a Thursday statement.
Boehner, utterly boxed in, just put out a response, and he's not backing down:
Asked if McConnell’s statement changes the equation for House Republicans, Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said No.
“The House and Senate have two different bills, but the same goal. That is why we believe, as Senator McConnell suggested, the two chambers should work to reconcile the two bills so that we can provide a full year of payroll tax relief — and do it before year’s end,” Buck said.
Steve Benen puts McConnell's move into context, and I think he has it exactly right:
The timing of McConnell’s announcement was rather remarkable. House Republican leaders, including Speaker Boehner, had just wrapped up a press conference on the Hill, telling reporters that the House GOP caucus won’t give in, won’t pass the temporary extension, and won’t do anything until a conference committee convenes (the conference committee would invariably kill the tax cut).
McConnell, almost immediately after Boehner wrapped up his remarks, cut the legs out from underneath the House GOP leadership and sided with Harry Reid’s proposed solution.
I honestly can’t remember the last time we saw a Senate Republican leader and a House Republican leader this far apart on a high-profile policy dispute. Everything about McConnell’s new statement appears intended to smack Boehner down, just as the Speaker tries to find his footing.
It’s remarkable, and further isolates the radicalized House GOP caucus.
Boehner and the dystopian lunatics in the House are just killing Republicans, and Mitch McConnell at least as the sense to recognize this. This is turning into a stunning internal fight among the GOP, and we can only hope that it keeps getting bloodier.