WASHINGTON (AP) – Capping a full retreat by House GOP leaders, Congress will convene Friday in hopes of approving a stopgap measure renewing payroll tax cuts for every worker and unemployment benefits for millions–despite serious opposition among some tea party Republicans.
Friday’s unusual session, if all goes according to plan, will send a bill to President Barack Obama to become law for two months and put off until January a fight over how to pay for the 2 percentage point tax cut, extend jobless benefits averaging around $300 a week and prevent doctors from absorbing a big cut in Medicare payments through 2012.
Those goals had been embraced by virtually every lawmaker in the House and Senate, but had been derailed in a quarrel over demands by House Republicans for immediate negotiations on a long-term extension bill. Senate leaders of both parties had tried to barter such an agreement among themselves a week ago but failed, instead agreeing upon a 60-day measure to buy time for talks next year.
The decision by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to cave in to the Senate came after days of criticism from Obama and Democrats. But perhaps more tellingly, GOP stalwarts like strategist Karl Rove and the Wall St. Journal editorial board warned that if the tax cuts were allowed to expire, Republicans would take a political beating that would harm efforts to unseat Obama next year.
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