Mr. McConnell, who voted for the two-month extension last Saturday, said he did not consider the objectives of House Republicans and Senate Democrats to be mutually exclusive.
“House Republicans sensibly want greater certainty about the duration of these provisions, while Senate Democrats want more time to negotiate the terms,” McConnell said. “We can and should do both. Working Americans have suffered enough from the president’s failed economic policies and shouldn’t face the uncertainty of a New Year’s Day tax hike.”
Mr. McConnell’s suggestion was also an important one given his long experience in negotiating his way out of tight jams in Congress. The Senator also wanted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to appoint members to a conference committee to reach a long-term agreement.
In the statement, the Senator singled out that “any measure was likely to include a push for construction of a new oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.”
“Leader Reid should appoint conferees on the long-term bill and 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 added.
The Senate bill also includes a provision demanding that President make a decision on the controversial oil pipeline from Canada to Texas within 60 days. Besides, it is to raise unemployment benefits and higher Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors, which expire Jan. 1.
Before McConnell made his suggestion House Speaker John Boehner and some more Republican leaders assured that the only way was for Democrats to come back to the Hill and negotiate a new, yearlong bill in a conference committee.
“Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing,” Boehner said Thursday. Boehner’s aide revealed the speaker had a conversation with the president earlier and insisted on the longer extension.
“The speaker proposed that the president send members of his economic policy team up to Congress to find a way to accommodate the president’s full-year request,” the aide said.
“The speaker explained his concern that flaws in the Senate-passed bill will be unworkable for many small business job creators. He reiterated that if their shared goal is a one-year bill, there is no reason an agreement cannot be reached before year’s end. The president declined the speaker’s offer.”
Reid had responded his side tried to find a longer-term bill and added he was going to continue that – till workers, the unemployed and those who are on Medicare got protected in the short run.
“Once the House passes the Senate’s bipartisan compromise to hold middle class families harmless while we work out our differences, I will be happy to restart the negotiating process to forge a year-long extension,” Reid told reporters. “Now, it is important that we now hear from Speaker Boehner in light of Senator McConnell’s comments.”
However, House Democrats, who urged Boehner to relent Thursday, sounded a bit insecure saying that the McConnell suggested plan would go anywhere.