Comparing the Senate and House versions of the Payroll Tax Bill

[Added in edit] On Friday, December 23, one day later, this all came to an end.

{Begin Original] In the last few weeks, the House wrote a bill that will extend the Payroll Tax break through 2012. It was approved last Tuesday, December 13.  The major points are provided below (via The Associated Press.)  The bill and the details are short.

As dictated by our laws, this bill was sent to the Senate for approval.  The Senate made very minor changes – you can read what they are in the list below. In summary, the Senate bill extends unemployment only for two months rather than through 2012.  It is changed to be a temporary fix, rather than making the change for the full year.  The other compromise was how the bill is paid for – the Senate version saves us money by passing the cost of the payroll tax reduction by charging a fraction of a percent more for mortgages – the House bill cost much more ($180 billion vs $33 billion) and generated what money it did through Federal pay freezes.  There are NO OTHER DIFFERENCES between the House and Senate bills.  They both accomplish the purpose of the bill – to extend the payroll tax break.

The Senate approved the amended, cheaper, temporary bill by a wide, bipartisan margin, 89-10.  Most Republican Senators voted in favor of the bill.  Because the bill was reworked to facilitate compromise, the House has to vote again for it to be sent to the President to become law.  This is typical procedure – bills are frequently modified in minor ways and it used to be routine that the House would vote again with a count identical to the original.

Not with our current lawmakers.  Instead, the House sent the bill to conference – which it can do to try and create compromise wording that allows both chambers to pass the bill – but this is usually saved for when significant changes are made when a bill moves from one group to the other.  In this case, there is no significant difference so it’s unclear what should happen in conference. Continue reading

Advertisements