Peter King will stick with Boehner on the payroll tax, even if “we’ll be blamed”By Reid Pillifant
Capital New York
December 19, 2011
Peter King will stand with Speaker John Boehner in tonight's vote on the two-month extension of a payroll tax cut.
"I'll vote against it," King told me just before heading into the 6 p.m. Republican conference. "I don't think it's that bad of a deal to be honest with you. But if it's going to go down, I don't want to weaken Boehner's hand in the negotiations."
Boehner had initially urged his members to approve a deal, after the Senate passed the bill 89-10 on Saturday, but he was rebuffed by the Tea Party wing of his caucus. So Boehner reversed course, and his staunch supporters, like King, are inclined to fall in behind him.
King mentioned that three-quarters of Republicans in the Senate had voted for the bill, and that the Republicans had successfully negotiated to include a provision pressing the administration to make a decision on the controversial Keystone pipeline.
"But if it's reached the stage now where it's going to go down, I don't want to be undercutting John Boehner," King said.
The vote puts Republicans in a precarious position, since the Senate has already recessed for the holiday and Democratic leaders have said they won't reconvene to approve a House measure. Earlier in the day, Senator Chuck Schumer argued on "Morning Joe" that the blame would be on Republicans if the payroll tax cut expired on January 1.
I asked King if he thought voting against the bill would reflect poorly on Republicans.
"Impulsively, I should say that's an absolutely stupid question, except that yeah, I do think we'll be blamed," King said with a laugh. "I can tell you that I did not get one phone call at my office about this today. I went to the cop's funeral out in Suffolk County, there were about 10 to 15 thousand people there, I spoke to many people about a lot of things. No person mentioned this.
"I think when it first appears on people's radar screen in the next day or two it's going to be that 'the Republicans undid a deal.' So I think it is going to hurt Republicans unless we wrap it up quickly."
It's unclear how exactly Republicans might be able to do that, unless Senate Democrats acquiesce on returning to session.