|English.news.cn 2011-12-16 05:00:13|
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday urged lawmakers to pass legislation on extending payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance before they leave for holidays.
"Congress needs to make sure that 160 million working Americans don't see their taxes go up on Jan. 1," Obama said at a White House speech to unveil new measures to provide minimum wage and overtime protections for home care workers.
"Congress should not and cannot go on vacation before they have made sure that working families aren't seeing their taxes go up by 1,000 dollars and those who are out there looking for work don't see their unemployment insurance expire," he said.
Extending payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance is core component of Obama's job creation act announced in early September. Both Democrats and Republicans favored extending the tax cut at a time of economic woes, but they differed on how to pay for the measure. Democrats preferred offsetting the cuts by raising taxes on the nation's millionaires, a move strongly opposed by Republicans.
Earlier this week, Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved its payroll tax bill. The White House and Senate Democrats rejected the bill as it did not include the so- called "millionaires tax" they wanted and also was bundled with some unrelated provisions. The Senate has yet to pass its payroll tax bill.
The issue was complicated by Democrats' attempt to associate payroll tax legislation with a separate bill to fund the federal government through the current fiscal year which ends in September. The current stop-gap measure to fund federal agencies is to expire Friday at midnight. Government will be partially shut down if no new funding measure is approved before that deadline.
A conference committee with members from both chambers and both parties had come up with a so-called omnibus bill that bundles a number of appropriations bills to provide funding for federal agencies for the remaining fiscal year. But Senate Democrats fell short of signing on the 1 trillion-dollar package, a move accused by Republicans as a tactic to gain leverage over payroll tax negotiations.
"There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to extend these items -- the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance -- before the holidays. There's no reason the government should shut down over this," Obama said at the speech. "I expect all of us to do what's necessary in order to do the people's business and make sure that it's done before the end of the year."