Payroll tax cut: Ironing out the final details

February 16, 2012 • National News

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio talks about an accord on the payroll tax cut negotiations during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calling quits to a bruising election-year fight, negotiators on Capitol Hill worked into Wednesday night trying to iron out final details of an agreement to extend a cut in the payroll taxes paid by most Americans. The legislation also would renew jobless benefits for millions more.

The $150 billion measure taking shape represents a tactical retreat for Republicans, who are generally unenthusiastic about the legislation but eager to move beyond the issue. With campaign season starting, they don’t want President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress to be able to claim the GOP was standing in the way of a middle-class tax cut.

Lawmakers hoped to officially unveil the measure Wednesday night so it could be voted on Friday in the House and then quickly pass the Senate. It would represent a rare burst of bipartisanship in a bitterly divided Congress.

But aides said a key Democratic negotiator, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, had yet to agree to the measure because of a provision requiring federal workers to contribute more to their pensions. The provision was included to help pay for or “offset” extending unemployment benefits.

It was unclear whether the issue would be resolved Wednesday.

“They are still talking,” Cardin spokeswoman Sue Walitsky said. “Sen. Cardin continues to work with his colleagues to ensure the fairness of the offsets.”

The legislation would continue a 2 percentage Login to read more

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