WASHINGTON – In a surprise visit to the White House briefing room to demand House Republicans compromise on the legislation -- a demand that was promptly rejected -- President Obama said Tuesday that the Senate bill "is the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on January 1st."
"It's the only one," Obama said shortly after the House voted to effectively reject a Senate measure to extend the payroll tax cut for two months.
Speaking minutes later at a press conference with dozens of GOP members behind him, House Speaker John Boehner said the House has already taken up the Senate bill, which only gives a $166 tax break to Americans, and opted instead for a bill that gives $1,000 to contributors to the Social Security fund.
"We rejected the Senate bill and we moved to go to conference," he said. "We've done our work for the American people, now it's up to the president and the Senate to do their work as well."
House Republicans are insisting on a year-long extension of the break and want to force the Senate to return to Washington to hammer out a compromise. The House voted 229-193 on partisan lines to call for a meeting of lawmakers to blend the House version of the bill with a Senate bill that passed 89-10 on Saturday.