House passes Republican bill to extend payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits

Vote for bill that includes requirement for expedited decision on oil pipeline comes despite fresh veto threat from White House
BY CHRIS CASTEEL ccasteel@opubco.com Published: December 14, 2011
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Democrats said Republican-proposed changes to the unemployment insurance program would cut weeks from benefits while imposing new restrictions on eligibility.

“The problem isn't a lack of effort by those seeking jobs,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. “The problem is a lack of jobs.”

Many Democrats also spoke against the inclusion of the pipeline issue.

The Obama administration delayed a decision until 2013 on the pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta, Canada, through Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast. The Republican bill would require the administration to make a decision within 60 days.

Obama said last week he would veto a bill that included the pipeline issue.

A veto message issued by the White House did not mention the pipeline issue explicitly, but said the bill “represents a choice to refight old political battles over health care and introduce ideological issues into what should be a simple debate about cutting taxes for the middle class.”

In a statement after the vote, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “It is our expectation that in the eleventh hour congressional Republicans and Democrats will come to an agreement to protect the middle class and finish their budget work for the year.”