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US House To Vote On Payroll Tax Cut Extension

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The Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives says his chamber will vote on a Senate-passed measure to extend for two months a payroll tax cut set to expire at the end of the year. A vote could come as early as Friday.

House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Tuesday the short-term extension is “the right thing to do” for the American people. He added that lawmakers will continue later to work on a proposal that would extend the tax cut and unemployment benefits through the end of 2012.

Boehner said he and others in his party had wanted to approve a year-long extension from the start, but he said “a lot of people” were not willing to work on negotiating a full-year extension with the Christmas holiday just a few days away.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Boehner’s announcement that the House will vote on the short-term extension is “good news.” He said the tax cut will make “a real difference in people’s lives.”

Mr. Obama has said if the tax cut is allowed to expire, average workers would lose about $40 per paycheck. The president said 30,000 people responded to a White House request for emails explaining what that $40 loss would mean to them. Their answers included new shoes, heating oil, fuel for the car, and dinners out with loved ones.

The Senate passed the two-month extension last week by a wide margin, but on Tuesday the House Republican leadership refused to schedule a vote on it.

Also Thursday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the House should pass the bill and Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid should appoint members to work with House negotiators on a long-term bill.

The White House says 160 million Americans will see their taxes go up by about $1,000 a year if the House fails to pass the tax cut extension by the end of the year, while about 2 million out-of-work Americans will lose their unemployment insurance.

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