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Pelosi: No Recess Without Deal on Jobless Benefits

Updated: 3:05 p.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today said she will support a clean payroll tax cut extension bill if Republican leaders decide to bring it to the House floor this week.

But she noted that she thinks the Presidents Day recess should be canceled if the payroll tax conference committee cannot come to an agreement on unemployment insurance by the end of this week.

“We have long proposed bringing this tax cut to the floor without payfors, and House Democrats will support it so that taxes are not raised on 160 million working Americans, but this should not be a substitute for the work of the Conference Committee,” the California Democrat said in a statement. “If the Conference Committee is unable to complete its work on a comprehensive bill by that date, the Republican leadership should cancel the recess and remain in Washington next week.”

House Republicans may bring the bill to floor as soon as Wednesday.

Still, it’s unclear whether Republicans need Democratic support to pass the measure. The House Republican Conference will meet this evening to discuss the bill with its Members.

Earlier today, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) declined to endorse the GOP plan to bring a straight extension of the payroll tax cut to the House floor, stating he is concerned about splitting the proposal from jobless benefits and a fix to the Medicare reimbursement for doctors.

Democrats seem concerned that, absent the payroll tax cut, they’ll lose leverage on the other issues in the conference committee.

“Our concern is going to be that somehow they’ll deal with one-third of what we ought to do and leave the other two behind,” Hoyer said.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the House GOP leadership announced today that they might bring to the floor this week a 10-month payroll tax cut extension that is not offset.

Hoyer said that until he sees the legislation, he will not answer questions about whether he will vote for it or whether he would tell the House Democratic Caucus to do so.

“Clearly, we’re going to have some discussion about it, but we’d really like to see … what they’re going to do,” he said.

Still, Hoyer welcomed the GOP action. He said it marks a concession from a party that was beat up over the payroll issue in December.

“My initial reaction is Republicans caved because they believe that the public believes that we ought to move forward,” he said. “I think it reflects that Republicans don’t want to be in the same position they were in in December. … They remember December.”

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