GOP unveils plan for payroll tax

By Donna Cassata

Published: Thursday, Dec. 8 2011 11:41 p.m. MST

WASHINGTON — Pivoting to challenge President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats, House Republicans said Thursday that they would forge ahead with a payroll tax holiday bill that includes an oil pipeline opposed by the president and that looks to changes in social programs to pay for the tax cut and added unemployment benefits.

In a sharp answer to several failed bills produced by Senate Democrats that would have cut an employee's share of the payroll tax and impose a new surcharge on income over $1 million, the House Republican bill would pay for the extension through a mix of changes to entitlement programs and a pay freeze for federal workers.

The House is expected to vote next week on the Republican bill, which includes a provision to speed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast — a project the White House has sought to delay.

It would also include a measure passed this year in the House that would roll back Environmental Protection Agency rules limiting toxic air pollutants from commercial and industrial boilers, and ban the agency from proposing a new standard in the near future. While both ideas enjoy some support from Democrats, they would have a hard time gaining broad support in the Senate.

Republicans see the added elements as a way of both attracting party support for the a tax break that many Republicans oppose and forcing Democrats to accept provisions they do not like. But Obama has threatened to veto any payroll tax measure that would ease approval of the pipeline, and he reiterated that position in an impromptu news conference Thursday morning.

GOP ASKS HOLDER TO FIRE MORE OVER SCANDAL: Republican lawmakers told Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday to fire some Justice Department subordinates over the flawed arms-trafficking investigation called Operation Fast and Furious.

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin said impeachment is an option if Holder does not "clean up this mess" quickly.

NO REASON FOR BLOCKING CONSUMER NOMINEE, SAYS OBAMA: President Barack Obama says there's no reason why his nominee to lead the new consumer protection bureau shouldn't be confirmed by the Senate.

Obama spoke shortly after Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of Richard Cordray. Only one Republican joined Democrats in voting for him.

Obama says he's still considering all available options to get Cordray on the job protecting consumers.

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