published Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Chattanooga area lawmakers join majority on tax cut

by Chris Carroll

  • photo
    U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.
    Staff File Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Local congressmen on Tuesday joined a Republican House majority in rejecting a Senate bill that would have extended the payroll tax cut for two months, putting both chambers back into gridlock 11 days before the tax cut expires for 160 million Americans.

The 229-193 vote came less than a week after the House passed a bill that included a yearlong payroll tax cut extension. But the Democratic-controlled Senate never considered that bill because it was linked to several unrelated conservative sweeteners, instead passing a two-month extension Saturday.

In rejecting that legislation Tuesday, House Republicans requested a conference with the Senate to work out differences and get something ironed out, but that could be problematic because senators have gone home for the holidays.

In a phone interview, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., said he supported a yearlong tax cut and described the two-month Senate proposal as “lazy,” adding that it “doesn’t do anybody any good.”

“I think they did it because they just wanted to get home for Christmas,” DesJarlais said. “If we’re going to change how Washington works, we need to work until the job is done.”

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., and U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., also voted to reject the two-month Senate proposal, echoing DesJarlais’ position.

“What has happened this last week in Washington sums up why the American people are mad,” Fleischmann said in a written statement.

No local lawmakers were named to a six-member House GOP conference committee tasked with negotiating with the Senate.

According to The New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he doesn’t intend to call senators back to the Capitol before Dec. 31 — when the tax cut expires. President Barack Obama said the two-month Senate proposal is “the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on Jan. 1.”

If the House and Senate cannot agree, working Americans can expect next year’s payroll tax rate to jump to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent — about a $1,000 difference annually.

In a written statement, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the Senate’s two-month extension “was designed in a back room of the Capitol by leaders looking to shield members up for re-election.”

He was one of 10 senators who voted against the two-month proposal Saturday, citing a desire “to bring sanity and discipline to Washington.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., supported the proposal, focusing his support on an included provision that requires Obama to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline within 60 days.

Corker implored Reid to forgo the holidays and reconvene the Senate so they can negotiate with the House and come to a resolution.

“Like most Americans, we should be at work this week and finish the business they elected us to do,” he said.

Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at ccarroll@timesfree or 423-757-6610.

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dfclapp said...

Confirmation again that these congressmen love their hard line more than they love the country they were elected to serve.

December 21, 2011 at 10:33 a.m.
onetinsoldier said...

Tom Graves couldn't sucessfully run a Motel and the idiots around here voted for him to make decisions about the economy. This part of the country is in desparate need of illegals just to raise the IQ level.

December 21, 2011 at 11:23 a.m.
terrybham said...

People in Tennessee obviously make too much money. Why else would they continue to elect people whose priority seems to be that of taking money out of their pockets. Good luck with that. You are on the bottom, I hope you like the view from down there.

December 21, 2011 at 11:35 a.m.

Thanks TFP for reporting the position of our local "leaders" in congress on this ridiculous obstruction. You have reaffirmed my decision to help throw these bums out the first opportunity I get.

December 21, 2011 at 11:56 a.m.
maddawg said...

Chuckie voted no after running around on the House floor shrieking at the top of his lungs "Johnnie, Johnnie, how do you want me to vote?" What a puss.

December 21, 2011 at 11:59 a.m.
Challenge said...

What good would a two month extension of benefits do if it cannot be implemented within two months - Most of Senate members have already left for their hard earned vacation so it would be January before work would begin on how to implement the extension.

December 21, 2011 at 1:27 p.m.
tipper said...

The TFP photo of the six federal lawmakers looks a lot like a perp lineup. Pick any one of them and you won't be wrong.

December 21, 2011 at 2:50 p.m.
esaletnik said...

That DesJarLais fellow is one scary looking hombre. They should cast him for the main killer character next year on Dexter.

December 21, 2011 at 6:29 p.m.
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