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Payroll-Tax Conferees Face Problems

January 9, 2012

The 20 assigned lawmakers must negotiate an extension of the expiring payroll-tax holiday, federal unemployment benefits and the Medicare “doc fix” in less than two months.

Both chambers passed their own legislation last year, but failed to reach a deal before Christmas--and not much has changed over the holiday season.Neither side can come to agreement on where to place the cuts.

The five House Democrats--Reps.Sander Levinof Michigan, ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee;Xavier Becerraof California,vice-chair of the House Democratic Caucus;Chris Van Hollenof Maryland, ranking member on the Budget Committee;Allyson Schwartzof Pennsylvania, vice-ranking member on the Budget Committee; andHenry Waxmanof California, ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee--gathered Wednesday evening for the first time to discuss a way forward.

Both Republican and Democratic aides said that negotiations are not likely to get into full swing until members return on January 17.