Durbin: Senate version of payroll tax extension is 'only option'

December 22, 2011

Associated Press

Sen. John McCain said Thursday that Congress' failure to reach agreement on legislation extending a payroll tax cut for working Americans "hurts the Republican Party." The GOP's 2008 presidential nominee said his party made a mistake in voting down the Senate-passed version of a bill that would have kept the current payroll tax relief intact for at least two more months.

McCain told CBS's "The Early Show" he feels badly for 160 million Americans, whom he called "innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire." He said the House should pass the same bill that cleared the Senate "but put a year on it" and send it back.

McCain also said, "This is really tragic for the American people, and I would say that next November, no incumbent is safe, nor should they be."

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said the House must accept the Senate's version of the legislation.

"That's the only option," he said in an interview on MSNBC. "Let's get the 60-day matter out of the way, so there is no uncertainty, and then let's sit down and talk about it." Durbin maintained the congressional impasse has left company human relations directors and payroll administrators confused about how to proceed.

President Barack Obama prepared to make a fresh appeal later Thursday to House Republicans to accept the two-month payroll tax cut extension. The White House said that Obama planned to make a statement at midday.