Lawmakers sealed the deal late Wednesday night on yearlong extensions of the payroll tax cut, unemployment compensation and Medicare physician payment rates. It’s a political victory for President Obama and the conclusion of a no-win situation for Republicans that they were eager to move past.
The agreement was announced by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), the two lead negotiators in conference committee. Final votes are expected by the end of this weekend.
The conclusion comes at the end of a grueling series of negotiations that spilled over from last year. That led House Republicans to this week drop their demand that the payroll tax cut be offset with spending cuts elsewhere, paving the way for the agreement as the two sides had been deadlocked on pay-fors.Unemployment benefits will be paid for with adjustments to the federal retiree pensions formula and also with a spectrum auction of wireless bandwidth.
The Medicare “doc fix” will be offset with health spending cuts including a small slice of the Affordable Care Act and reimbursement cuts to some Medicare and Medicaid providers. Democratic aides say the pay-fors won’t in any way affect benefits or coverage.