Timeline: Speaker Boehner's tax cut reversal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner did an about-face on Thursday, agreeing to White House demands for a two-month renewal of a payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans set to expire on December 31.
Here is a look at how the reversal unfolded during the day in Washington:
* At a morning news conference, Boehner stuck to his position that the tax cut, which many of his fellow Republicans initially did not want to renew at all, would have to be extended for a full year, not just two months.
The speaker gave no indication he would soon change course amid mounting complaints from critics that the tax stalemate could hurt his party in the November 2012 elections.
* Also in the morning, Boehner called President Barack Obama. The White House said Obama, a Democrat, assured Boehner he would seek a one-year extension of the tax cut - once House Republicans agreed to a two-month renewal to prevent a New Year's Day tax hike.
* Shortly before noon, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell urged House Republicans to approve a short-term extension. McConnell took the action in a statement released by his office after a phone call to Boehner, aides said.
* Boehner met House negotiators and his top lieutenant, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, in the early afternoon, an aide said. The aide said the negotiators gave the speaker their support to resolve the matter with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.
* Boehner directed fellow Republican Dave Camp, chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, to work with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat, to resolve what the speaker saw as troublesome language in the Senate payroll tax bill that he believed would have hurt small businesses.
A Democratic aide said Democrats agreed to a "technical correction" - one they would have accepted last weekend had it been offered.
* At an event at the White House, Obama stood with some of the people who sent him 30,000 messages saying what the loss of $40 from each paycheck would mean if the payroll tax cut expired. One man wrote he would have to go without heating his home three nights a week. A family said they would have to drop their occasional pizza nights.
* Freshman Representative Sean Duffy, a favorite of the anti-Washington Tea Party movement, said he favored whatever it took to prevent a tax hike on his constituents. "While I would prefer a year-long tax holiday, I refuse to let anyone play games with my constituents," Duffy said. "I will support ANY option to extend the payroll tax cut" provided "it's paid for."
* At 2 p.m., Boehner held a conference call with House Republican leaders to inform them of his intent to reach out to Reid "to see if an agreement was possible," an aide said, adding the entire leadership team backed Boehner's decision.
* Boehner's staff contacted Reid's staff with a proposal to "fix language" in the Senate bill to protect small businesses and guarantee appointment of Senate negotiators on a full-year extension of the payroll tax bill, an aide said. Already included by the Senate was a renewal of jobless benefits and action to prevent a pay cut to doctors in a federal healthcare program.
* Boehner set a conference call for 5 p.m. with House Republicans to bring them up to speed. No questions were permitted from members, who last week peppered leaders with complaints about the Senate's short-term payroll tax extension.
* In a statement at about 5:15 p.m., Boehner said he and Reid had reached an agreement that includes a short-term extension of the payroll tax cut and appointment of Senate negotiators to work with House ones on a year-long extension.
* Reid, in a statement minutes later, said: "I am grateful that the voices of reason have prevailed and Speaker Boehner has agreed to pass the Senate's bipartisan compromise."
(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro)
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