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Capitol Hill gridlock once again threatens the day-to-day operations of government as Republicans and Democrats tangle over unemployment benefits, Social Security taxes and the use of earmarks to benefit campaign contributors.
Both sides, while playing politics with the economic well-being of Americans, accuse the other of doing exactly that in a bitter struggle over a payroll tax cut for Americans, extension of aid to the long-term unemployed and a giant spending bill needed to keep the government in business past Friday.
“It’s do or die time,” a frustrated House aide told Capitol Hill Blue Tuesday. “Right now, we’re dying.”
The Republican-led House is thumbing its nose at President Barack Obama and sending the Senate a spending bill that includes the wanted tax cut on Social Security taxes that Democrats want but also includes a measure to force Obama’s hand on a controversial oil pipeline. Obama has threatened to veto any bill that includes the pipeline measure or other items that are earmarks sought by Republicans to aid their contributors.
Shell Oil stands to benefit from expedited action on the pipeline and company executives have contributed heavily to GOP leaders.
But the bill faces certain death in the Democratic Senate if the pipeline measure remains part of the legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he will hold a vote quickly so negotiations can begin on differences and expressed hope, not optimism, that a deal could be reached.
The tax cuts and extension of unemployment benefits expire on Dec. 31.