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Division Over Payroll Tax Widens

Roll Call (01/25/12) Daniel Newhauser; Humberto Sanchez

Another hurdle was placed in the path of a bipartisan agreement to extend the payroll tax cut through the end of the year as top Senate Democrats on Jan. 24 called for a package of tax extenders to be included in conference committee discussions. The conferees have about a month to craft a deal, or payroll taxes will go up for millions of Americans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants the committee to expand its portfolio and include extenders for more than 80 tax provisions that expired at the beginning of the new year, such as deductions for state and local taxes. “All these [tax credits] are extremely important and are job-creating in and of themselves,” says Reid. “I am afraid if we don’t do it now with this conference, we are not going to do it until the end of the year and a lot of businesses will be hurt.” Republicans, meanwhile, are insisting that a provision to hasten approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline be included in any final deal the committee produces. President Barack Obama earlier this month decided to at least temporarily deny a permit to build the pipeline.