By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporters
United States Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery issued a press release condemning Democratic Leaders of the U.S. Senate for leaving town for Christmas rather than appointing Senate members to a Conference Committee to resolve the differences between the Senate bill and the House bill to extend unemployment benefits and the temporary cut in the Social Security Taxes. “But rather than approve the House bill, the Senate rushed through a short two-month extension and left town for the Christmas break. If we are going to extend the payroll tax holiday, we should extend the holiday for a full year.” Representative Roby said, “It seems ridiculous to me that Congress cannot even agree to pass a law that most Members actually support. This is the height of dysfunction. The political posturing needs to end. The back and forth rhetoric needs to stop.”
Congresswoman Roby defended the House version of the bill. “The bipartisan House bill also included a reform of unemployment benefits, a provision to boost American energy production, and a fix to ensure that senior citizens have continued access to quality medical care.”
Representative Roby said that : “The facts are simple. President Obama, leaders of the Republican House, and leaders of the Democratic Senate have all said they want a one-year extension of the payroll tax holiday.” However, there will not be a one year extension because the Democratic controlled Senate passed a two month extension then refused to appoint a conference committee to resolve the differences between their bill and the House bill. Rep. Roby says that, “The House seeks the regular order in the form of a Conference Committee, which is the established method for working out legislative differences between the House and the Senate. House Conferees are ready to get started today. The Senate must get back to Washington and appoint Conferees so that the Conference Committee can get to work negotiating a final bill. If the Senate chooses to move forward under the regular order, we can get this done before the end of the year.”
If the two sides don’t come up with a compromise (that President Obama will sign) by December 31, Social Security Taxes on January 1 will increase, payments to doctors who take Medicare patients will decrease by 27 percent, and unemployment benefits for millions of unemployed Americans will expire.
One of the key sticking points in the negotiations has been insistence by Republicans in Congress that any bill passed extending the temporary tax cuts include language calling for the administration to approve the construction of Keystone Pipeline so that American refineries can access Canadian oil. The Keystone Pipeline is opposed by a coalition of environmental groups led by the Sierra Club who oppose increasing Americans’ access to oil. Many of these groups are heavy financial contributors to Democratic members of Congress.
President Obama wants to put off any decision on Keystone until some time in 2013 and urges the Republican controlled House to pass the Democrat controlled Senate’s sixty day extension. Presidential Spokesman Jay Carney said, “There’s a clear avenue here. They’re shining a light on the path out of this cul-de-sac that they (the Republican controlled House of Representatives) have driven themselves into. And it is to vote on (the Senate bill).
Congresswoman Roby responds to the White House call for a sixty-day extension. “If we are going to extend the payroll tax holiday, we should extend the holiday for a full year. Business managers need the certainty that tax laws will not change every sixty days. Working families need the confidence that their take-home pay will not fluctuate every two months. Moreover, the tax holiday is going to need more than eight weeks to have even a marginal positive impact on the economy.”
Representative Roby is a freshman member of the U.S. Congress. She represents the 2nd District in Alabama and serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Agriculture, the House Education Committee, and the House Workforce Committee.