Civil rights icon, rep. John Lewis (D-GA) went to the floor of the House Tuesday to admonish his Republican colleagues for blocking a payroll tax-cut compromise that would have extended unemployment and current tax cuts until February.
“What is happening here today is shameful. It is a disgrace. It is unreal. It is unbelievable…Where is your compassion? Where is your heart? Where is your soul?”
The compromise was brokered in the Senate by party leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, passed by a margin of 89 to 10 and sent to the house. The bill would have extended the payroll tax rate of 4.2 percent, unemployment benefits and current Medicare doctors’ reimbursements.
In a letter to President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner wrote that the House is working to get a bill to the White house “in an expeditious fashion.” He said Monday morning that the Senate-passed bill “creates uncertainty” for the U.S. economy. His party rejected the bill, offering to work on a compromise in the coming weeks.
“The differences between the two different bills can be quickly reconciled to provide the American people the certainty of a full-year bill,” Boehner said.
The deadline for the House to reach a compromise is Dec. 31. Lewis said in his speech, “If we go home without passing the bipartisan bill, we disgrace ourselves and this Congress… We cannot go into this holiday season without helping our unemployed brothers and sister.”