The Senate is taking this "upper chamber" stuff a little too seriously, say House leaders, as they work towards a new bill to extend the payroll tax break and unemployment insurance despite the Senate's take it or leave it approach on the bill it passed.
Expressing the frustration with Senate Democratic leaders who've closed up shop for the year, Speaker John Boehner's spokesman Michael Steele today set straight just how Legislation 101 is supposed to work and why the Senate should return.
In an email to reporters titled "Article 1 Refresher: It's a bicameral legislature," he wrote:
Folks—When Senate Democrats complain that they don't want to 'negotiate twice' or say they don't want to 're-open' negotiations on the payroll/Unemployment Insurance/jobs bill, please remind them that they have not yet negotiated at all with House Republicans.
With a narrow majority in the Senate, they needed to negotiate with Senate Republicans to pass a bill. So they did. The speaker of the House made it clear publicly and privately that the House could not negotiate until the Senate produced a bill.
The Senate did produce a bill, and today Republicans will move to conference to reconcile the two measures. That's how Congress works, and we see no reason to stray from regular order. This is the system our Founders gave us, so let's take the next ten days and make it work.
- Check out 2011: The Year in Cartoons
- Read 10 things you didn't know about the Bush tax cuts.
- Read the U.S. News debate: Should Congress Extend Federal Unemployment Benefits?