Pledging to vote against the Republican sponsored payroll tax plan, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky. denounced the legislation for making fundamental changes to key programs without debate.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., predicted the roughly $180 billion bill will pass the GOP-controlled House with bipartisan support.
One provision includes speeding up federal approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which has become a dividing issue for proponents who want to extend the middle-class tax cuts. But Democratic opposition has picked up over other additions as well and observers are beginning to count the vote more closely.
Yarmuth says there are several philosophical riders in the bill that have nothing to do with keeping the tax relief for another year, such as environmental protections and unemployment protections.
“The Republican plan changes the way unemployment benefits are structured, it reduces the number of weeks of eligibility and it puts new constraints on those who have been laid off. Just one after another it raises these very ideological points for Republicans and conservatives without absolutely any discussion, debate or analysis,” he says.
For instance, the bill withholds extra benefits for the long-term unemployed from expiring on Jan. 1, but it cuts the maximum coverage from 99 to 59 weeks. It also give states the right to administer drug tests to applicants who receive unemployment benefits.
Yarmuth says GOP lawmakers are stuffing the bill with partisan provisions that change unemployment, immigration and environmental policies.
The congressman said as much during a House floor Tuesday.
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From the Associated Press:
The legislation would also prevent an automatic 27 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements for doctors in January, a reduction that could force some to stop treating Medicare patients. Instead, their reimbursements would rise by 1 percent each of the next two years.
The measure includes a range of other provisions, including language blocking a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule curbing industrial pollution; preventing illegal immigrants and others who lack Social Security numbers from collecting the children’s tax credit; and stopping welfare recipients from using their electronic benefit cards to pay at casinos and strip clubs.
Asked about it chance of passage, Yarmuth say it’s a coin toss and that Democrats will oppose the legislation. The vote on the GOP plan is expected later today.