Another pair of dueling bills failed in the Senate Thursday as Democrats keep up the pressure on Republicans to break ranks and support a payroll tax cut for workers paid for largely by imposing a modest surtax on income over $1 million.
Though most GOP senators oppose extending and deepening the current payroll tax cut, set to expire January 1, 2012, enough of them back the idea that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell paired the Democrats’ bill with competing legislation that proposes paying for the tax holiday by shrinking the federal workforce by 10 percent, freezing federal pay, and means-test federal support programs, including Medicare, for wealthy Americans. Before the votes the Obama administration issued official policy statements announcing support for the Dem bill, and opposition to the GOP’s.
The vote on the Democrats’ bill was 50-48 — the narrowest majority, but not enough to overcome a GOP filibuster. One Republican, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) crossed the aisle to vote with most Democrats.
The GOP bill went down in flames, 22-76. Identical legislation received only 20 GOP votes last week — in both cases, a minority of the Republican caucus.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.