Ending weeks of partisan gridlock -- the norm these days for Capitol Hill --
agreed Thursday to a two-month extension of a tax cut for working Americans with the stipulation that
agree to appoint conferees to negotiate how to pay for the tax cuts for the rest of the 2012 year. So far, just Democrats have made their selections. Among the chosen, are Pennsylvania Democrat U.S. Sen.
suburbs U.S. Rep.
Although procedurally different, the appointment of a select group of lawmakers to meet privately to figure out an economic puzzle will likely remind people of the spectacular failure that was the supercommittee. The group will be up against an end of February deadline, setting up another likely down-to-the-wire debate.
The group must agree how a tax cut should be offset. The House Republicans had wanted a pay freeze for federal workers, Senate Democrats wanted a new surtax for millionaires. They are expected to begin work during Congress' winter break.
Casey sponsored the tax cut legislation in the Senate. After multiple failed attempts to pass a year-long extension, the Senate garnered bipartisan support for a two-month stop-gap version. The House Republicans initially bucked, but after intense political pressure caved late this week.
Both Casey and Schwartz issued statements on their appointments.
"At a time when almost 500,000 Pennsylvanians are out of work, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my work to reach a bipartisan compromise that protects working families and provides more take-home pay for 160 million Americans by ensuring a full year extension of the payroll tax cut. I thank Majority Leader Reid for the appointment and his leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans on an agreement that is in the best interest of Pennsylvania and the American people," Casey said.
"I have always worked across the aisle to find common ground on the most important issues facing our nation. We need to put aside our differences in order to protect our economic recovery. I am honored to have been appointed to this joint committee and will work to prevent a tax increase on middle class families and preserve the quality health care America's seniors deserve," Schwartz said.