White House calls Senate vote a win
December 17th, 2011
04:54 PM ET

White House calls Senate vote a win

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama hailed Senate passage of a bill to extend for two months the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance - two key provisions of his jobs bill - saying the money would provide a lifeline to struggling families and make "a real difference" in the lives of people trying to buy groceries and pay the bills.

The president's comments came just hours after the Senate voted 89-10 to pass the measure, which also included a provision that prevents a drop in Medicare payments to doctors. But the House must still pass the bill, and it's not yet clear it has the support it needs to pass there. The president plans to delay his annual holiday trip to Hawaii until the House votes, senior administration officials said.

Obama also urged Congress to extend the tax cut for the rest of the year when lawmakers return after the winter break, saying it was his expectation that they would do so.

"It would be inexcusable for Congress not to further extend this middle-class tax cut for the rest of the year," he told reporters gathered in the White House briefing room Saturday. "It should be a formality and hopefully it's done with as little drama as possible when they get back in January. This really isn't hard. There are plenty of ways to pay for these proposals."

In fact, nothing has been a "formality" in Congress this session. The tax-cut extension the Senate passed Saturday faced a tough battle on Capitol Hill, where the parties had a hard time reaching agreement on how to pay for it. Republicans rejected a Senate proposal to fund the bill through a surtax on millionaires and even though Democrats dropped that proposal during negotiations, the president indicated the White House could continue to push that approach.

"My preference, and the preference of most Americans, is that we ask the wealthiest few Americans to pay their fair share and corporations to do without special taxpayer subsidies to cover some of the costs," Obama said.

Another sticking point was a provision expediting the permitting process for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would deliver oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. During a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week, the president said "any effort to try to tie Keystone to the payroll tax cut I will reject."

The White House had hoped to push the decision off to 2013, after environmenalists raised concerns about the impact the pipeline route would have on Nebraska's Sandhills region and the Ogallala aquifer, a major source of groundwater that runs through several states. In the end, the provision giving the Obama administration 60 days to make a call on the project was included in the Senate bill in an effort to win GOP support.

In a briefing with reporters held after the president's brief remarks, senior administration officials called the vote a win for working people and insisted the White House had given no ground on the pipeline issue. They echoed the president, saying they were "confident" and "hopeful" that Congress would vote to extend the payroll tax cut through the rest of the year.

"We've kind of crossed the rubicon here where you've got huge majorities in both parties in both chambers saying they agree that this tax cut should get extended into 2012," one senior administration official said. "It's inconceivable that they won't find a way to extend it through the end of the year."

Officials said the president's campaign for the payroll tax-cut extension had forced Republicans to support it and added that most Americans agreed with asking the wealthy to help pay for it.

"There's a little bravado but any smart person - Republican in town - knows they are in a boatload of trouble," another official said. "They have repeatedly, because they are yoked to the Tea Party, taken a position that is the antithesis of what a majority of their own voters around the country want."

The administration officials argued the Keystone provision did not dictate an outcome on the pipeline, it simply shortened the review process by 60 days. They also repeated concerns outlined by the State Department - the agency in charge of the permitting process - that an expedited process would not allow enough time for a full review, almost certainly meaning they would not be able to approve the project.

"They're not making the president do anything," said an official, regarding the Keystone language.

Officials also said they were "comfortable" with the omnibus spending bill, which the Senate also passed Saturday, because it "reflects a lot of our key priorities," including preserving funding for various environmental protection initiatives; ensuring adequate funds for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission - an important aspect of the financial regulatory overhaul; and providing an additional $270 million in funding for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as part of the health care overhaul, among other measures.

Topics: Congress • President Obama • Tax cuts

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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. george of the jungle

    everyone just wants to go home for the holidays. Hold their feet to the fire

    December 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    The House should reject the Senate deal, in total.

    December 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  3. 1FreeWorld

    I tried to post this on the other Report.

    Might be closed...

    825,000 Healthy and Rational Folks, left the DemocRAT Party in about 5 Swing States RECENTLY,,,

    I am guessing they still like the 1st Lady,,, just didn't like her Hubbie's Policies!

    He has a lot of policies that reflect more like that guy in Germany after the Weimar Repulic and the benevolent guy in Italy that didn't much like bridges.



    Can we ask Castro why the large majority of Latinos from Cuba vote REPULICAN?

    Might be something about a Free World, at least in their lives!

    December 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Joyce

      Where did you get your info

      December 18, 2011 at 8:50 am |
      • 1FreeWorld

        Check out the following web site:


        It is there.

        Here is a little more:

        But there are warning signs on the horizon for Mr. Obama. It is not just a sagging economy that may actually be on the way down, not up. Battleground state voters are leaving the Democratic Party. According to National Journal, "Over 825,000 registered Democrats in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have departed the party rolls since President Obama's election in 2008."

        USA Today reports that Republicans have become resurgent in key swing states too. "Since the heady days of 2008, a new USA TODAY/Gallup Swing States Poll finds the number of voters who identify themselves as Democratic or Democratic-leaning in these key states has eroded, down by 4 percentage points, while the ranks of Republicans have climbed by 5 points." Republican voters are also paying more attention and are more engaged. In key swing states, Obama trails both Romney and Gingrich.

        "But wait," the television pitch man might say, "there's more!" A Harvard University survey "of more than 2,000 young voters, age 18 to 29, finds their support for Obama, so crucial to his 2008 victory, has dwindled." The kids still like their Obamessiah more than they generic Republican, but they think he is going to lose. An Associated Press-GfK poll "finds a majority of American adults (52%) say the Democrat should be defeated come Nov. 6, while only 43% say he deserves a second term."

        Just sayin'

        Check it out!

        December 18, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Jules

      Do you really believe this drivel you are espousing here, or is it just free association?

      December 18, 2011 at 11:09 am |
      • 1FreeWorld


        Jules, you are a gym,,, err,,, jem,,,err Jewel!

        But you are also a Fool my friend..

        You are a Soros Stooge,,,

        The Three Stooges: Soros, Barry and Jules!

        Whooo Whooo Whooo Whooo Whooo (Quoting Curley and Jules)

        December 18, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  4. 1FreeWorld

    I am wondering why Folks from Mexico,


    in getting into the USA....

    Might be because the USA.
    USUALLY fights for FREEdom and has been, in the past, a Safe Place to Live....
    (No Banditos, No Gangs with Teeth, Keeping the Mafios' in Check),,,
    and, is the last Batstion of REAL HOPE, before

    being Slaughtered by the
    Religious Fanatics,

    Better watch out, better not cry, better not shout, I'm telling you why,,,

    Better go to your local stores and buy lead, food, energy, and other protections....

    Merry Christmas to ALL!

    December 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  5. 1FreeWorld

    Those Rascals in Washington, DC!

    I would like to see all of the, ahem, Folks on the Hill,,,

    (President, Vice President, their Wives and especially thier Children, their Staff,,,
    the Speaker of the House, the Leaders of the Senate and the House,,,,
    their Staff,,, their Families,,,

    WALK through all the Streets of WASHINGTON, DC,
    Our Capital!
    Without any Concealed Carry Permits...
    and just,,,
    just chat with the folks...

    Possibly the OWS folks, possibly the others...

    We can get all the Race-Baters there
    Al Sharpton. Farrakan, Rev. Wright, Rev. Jackson and his under scrutiny-o-d-FBI, Son as a Chicago THUG,,,

    Wanna bet they will not Knock Door-to-Door to GOTV?
    GOTV = Get Out The Vote????

    They are afraid and they do not represent the FOLKS!

    Here come Santa Clause, Here Come Santa Clause,,,

    Deck the Halls with,,,

    Merry Christmas EVERY BODY!

    December 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  6. Handofdoom

    Sure this TWO FACE DYFUNCTIONAL Government would call it a win , but I call it a foolish mistake of a poor leadership !

    December 18, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  7. Jules

    Is there a full moon? These are certainly full moon posts.

    December 18, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • jean2009

      @Jules everyday on here there is a Full Moon..LOL!

      December 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
      • Trace

        @Jean...You got that right. Please tell Jules, this is the place where brainless idiots espouse complete drivel in their posts, while intelligent people read first hand, and in utter amazement , how miserably our education system has failed us.

        Constant Fox Bumper Sticker drivel from the usual offenders.

        Again, CNN your moderators are out to lunch when they arrive at work.

        December 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  8. LNB

    Happy Holidays to The Revisionist ~ eloquent as s/he may be.

    December 19, 2011 at 2:24 am |