House Republicans Cave On Two-Month Payroll Tax Extension

December 22, 2011 4:53 pm ET — Kate Conway

Reps. John Boehner and Eric Cantor

Late Thursday afternoon, House Republicans reportedly agreed to a two-month payroll tax extension, after everyone from Karl Rove to President Obama to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urged them to give up on their obstinacy. The National Journal reports:

House Republicans on Thursday crumpled under the weight of White House and public pressure and have agreed to pass a two-month extension of the 2 percent payroll-tax cut, Republican and Democratic sources told National Journal.

The House made the move after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed to appoint conferees to a committee to resolve differences between the Senate's two-month payroll-tax cut and the House's one-year alternative.

House Republicans appear to have relented based on Sen. Reid's promise to appoint senators to a conference committee tasked with working on a full-year extension. It's worth noting that the heart of this compromise — passing a two-month measure in order to buy time to work on a yearlong extension — is exactly what's been on the table since the Senate passed its bipartisan compromise measure last Saturday.

Sure, the formality of a conference committee wasn't part of the Senate package. But given that most credible political figures, Democrat and Republican alike, agreed that the ultimate goal is to extend the payroll tax holiday for a year, assuming Congress would take up the issue in the new year was reasonable, to say the least.

So House Republicans ended up dragging the payroll tax debate through the mud for an extra four days  for no logical or substantive reason whatsoever — and appear to only have given in to reason when they realized the depth of the damage their intransigence was doing to their image and credibility.