Campaign News
December 20, 2011

Alabama House delegation votes along party lines on payroll tax cut

Mary Orndorff   ·  The Birmingham News   ·  Link to Article

The U.S. House today by a vote of 229-193 rejected a Senate compromise to extend the payroll tax cut by another two months. 

All six Republicans from Alabama voted against the short-term extension and instead decided to send the issue to a conference committee of members from the House and Senate to work out the differences over a yearlong extension.

The lone Democrat in the delegation, Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, voted against rejecting the Senate compromise.

The Senate, with overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats, approved on Saturday a temporary extension of the payroll tax holiday to give Congress additional time to hammer out a long-term deal without causing a tax increase on workers. Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, both Republicans, were among the 10 who voted against the Senate plan.

"Rather than reducing payroll taxes that fund the Social Security Trust Fund, we should be focusing on pro-growth policies that give businesses of all sizes access to capital and spur job creation," Shelby said in a prepared statement after the Saturday vote.

For 2011, Congress dropped the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for employees, and the debate this week has been over the terms of extending that cut for an additional year.

Senate leaders, expecting that House Republicans would agree to the two-month compromise negotiated with Senate Republicans, have already left Washington for the holiday break. It was unclear whether the Senate would return in response to the House vote today. If the issue is unresolved by Dec. 31, about 2.4 million workers in Alabama would see a smaller paycheck come January.

The six Alabama Republicans voting to reject the two-month compromise were Reps. Jo Bonner of Mobile; Martha Roby of Montgomery; Mike Rogers of Saks; Robert Aderholt of Haleyville; Mo Brooks of Huntsville; and Spencer Bachus of Vestavia Hills.

"This latest Republican grandstand will cost the American public dearly," Sewell said in a prepared statement after the vote today. "We all understand that extending these benefits is a temporary fix to a long term problem.  While I had hoped for a one-year extension agreement, the two-month compromise agreed to by the Senate is better than the alternative--letting millions of Americans suffer economic hardship on January 1, 2012."

Follow Terri