NEW: Veteran Sen. McCain says the dispute is hurting Republicans
President Obama calls on House leaders to hold a direct vote on the Senate plan
Speaker Boehner asks Obama to call back the Senate
Sen. Reid says Senate Democrats won't agree to House GOP demands to restart talks
The congressional impasse over extending the payroll tax cut became a showdown Tuesday between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner.
After the Republican-controlled House passed a measure calling for more negotiations, Boehner made public a letter to Obama that urged him to order the Senate back from its holiday break to take part in further talks.
Leaders in the Democratic-controlled Senate reject that idea, and Obama agreed with them, telling reporters in a previously unscheduled appearance that the House must approve a two-month extension passed by an 89-10 vote in the Senate.
“The bipartisan compromise that was reached on Saturday is the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on January 1,” Obama said. “It’s the only one.”
The House motion, passed Tuesday with no Democratic support on a 229-193 vote, expressed the chamber’s disagreement with the Senate plan and called for the dispute to be immediately taken up by a House-Senate conference committee – something already ruled out by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.
However, Boehner and the Republican leadership prevented a direct vote on the Senate’s two-month extension, signaling they may lack enough GOP support to defeat it in the face of unrelenting pressure from the White House, Democrats and some Senate Republicans.