Update: House Passes Payroll Tax, Unemployment Extension
Schakowsky, Dold split on philosophy behind bill. Original ideas altered.
A bill approving an extension of the payroll tax holiday and continuing long term unemployment benefits passed the United States House of Representatives Tuesday night, 234-193, and drew mixed reaction from Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) and Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth).
The bill, expected to be rejected by the Senate, would prevent an additional $1,000 coming out of American paychecks after Jan. 1 but shorten the length of time the long term unemployed can receive benefits from 99 weeks to 59 weeks.
“Congressman Dold supported this legislation because he believes it was important to extend both of these programs before they expired at the end of this year,” Dold Communications Director Stefani Zimmerman said. “Traditionally, unemployment insurance runs out after 26 weeks and he wanted to ensure that it was extended for over one year.”
Construction of the Keystone Pipeline to move oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico was added to the bill as well as elimination of certain environmental protections. Schakowsky anticipated these additions. She considers them partisan maneuvering.
Before the bill was ready for a vote, Schakowsky told Patch Friday she felt the Republican leadership should work with the Democrats rather than cater to Tea Party demands. “That’s the way legislation should get done,” she said. “It’s very upsetting what this will undo.”
Earlier: Congressional Inaction Could Cost Local Citizens
Millions of Americans face the prospect of less money in their pockets next year and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Evanston, is willing to keep working through the holidays if necessary to make sure it does not happen.
Rep. Robert Dold, R-Kenilworth, who introduced legislation in September to resolve part of the problem, is working hard as well. He also has criticized one of his potential Democratic opponents for the first time over the issue, Deerfield management consultant Brad Schneider.
As part of President Barack Obama’s effort to stimulate the economy, working Americans have been paying less payroll tax, effectively increasing their disposable income. People who are out of work have been receiving extended unemployment benefits since 2009.
Though Dold wanted to see an elimination of payroll tax for a period of time for employers who hired new workers, he indicated a willingness to work with the president’s ideas after they were announced.
Both the payroll tax holiday and extended unemployment benefits cease at the end of the year without congressional intervention and movement on the issues has been slow.
“We’re not going home, for the holidays,” Schakowsky said of her pledge to solve the problem as quickly as possible. “That’s the word from our leadership and the president. The president is going to hold us here until we’re done.”
Several proposals have been floated in both the House and the Senate for additional provisions onto the payroll tax holiday extension, such as the Keystone Pipeline, an oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Schakowsky wants none of it. She claims it is political maneuvering when people are suffering.
Republicans Poking President in the Eye, Schakowsky Says
“There is no reason to do this except to poke the president in the eye,” she said of the additions by Republicans. “He, the president, was pretty clear in what he had to say.”
Dold also favors a payroll tax holiday and an extension of unemployment benefits. Though he has not indicated he favors adding anything to either piece of legislation, he is keeping his mind open to all possibilities.
“As there are multiple plans being circulated in Washington, Congressman Dold is open to looking at these options and others as long as they include the appropriate pay-fors,” said Stefani Zimmerman, Dold congressional communications director.
While Dold is keeping his options open, one change Schakowsky said she will not countenance is shortening the period for extended unemployment benefits from 99 weeks to 59 weeks as some Republicans have proposed.
“It’s very upsetting; they will undo this for the people who need it most,” Schakowsky said. “It’s not going to pass the Senate and the president is not going to sign it into law,” she added citing a need for less partisanship and more legislation.
Though Dold continues to be willing to consider all options, his re-election campaign was sharply critical of Schneider for claiming Dold has helped block a payroll tax holiday extension, would reduce the disposable income of people in Illinois and increase burdens to the middle class.
“Brad Schneider is either completely uninformed or completely disingenuous,” said Jon Blessing, Dold campaign spokesman. “In either case the 10th District does not deserve this type of careless and false rhetoric.”
Schneider admits Dold has not voted against extending the payroll tax holiday but contends the congressman has voted to keep the measure from coming to a vote three times. He thinks this action will increase the middle class tax burden.
“On three separate occasions Dold voted to block a vote on the bill,” Schneider said. “This is the same as voting against it. If the bill doesn’t pass, a family earning $50,000 a year will be $1,000 out of pocket.”
Schneider, Sheyman and Tree Weigh in
Schneider and two of his primary opponents, Waukegan community organizer Ilya Sheyman and Long Grove business owner John Tree, oppose adding the Keystone Pipeline to legislation extending the payroll tax holiday.
“The Keystone Pipeline is a distraction that is delaying a tax cut for millions of working and middle class families that the Republicans want to hold hostage to the Big Oil agenda,” Tree said.
Sheyman not only wants an extension of unemployment benefits and a continuation of the payroll tax holiday, but he also would like to see legislation to create new jobs. He would pay for his ideas by more heavily taxing the wealthiest Americans.
"We need to provide a life vest to middle class families drowning in this economy by passing major new federal jobs legislation, extending unemployment benefits and a short-term extension of the payroll tax cut,” Sheyman said. “We should pay for it by rolling back the Bush tax cuts."
Schneider shares Schakowsky’s sense of urgency and fears a delay by Congress could have serious effects on American workers.
“Inaction on this issue will cost jobs, potentially take us back into recession, and put working families already struggling to make ends meet closer to the edge,” he said. “Congress must address this issue now.”
One other Democratic candidate contending for Dold’s seat, Mundelein attorney Vivek Bavda, did not respond to Patch’s request for comments on these issues.