UPDATE: 11:45AM (PST)--
President Obama on Saturday praised the Senate for keeping the payroll tax cut alive for another two months but said it would be “inexcusable” if Congress failed to extend it again, for the full year, when lawmakers reconvene in 2012.
“It should be a formality and hopefully it’s done with as little drama as possible,” Obama said, according to the National Journal.
Benefits for the long term unemployed and a two month extension of the cut to Social Security payroll taxes passed the vote by the Congress. This is considered a compromise victory for the Obama Administration’s agenda to pass legislation incrementally because the Congress did not pass his Jobs Bill.
Both Democrats and Republican leaders failed to agree on spending cuts to pay for a full year of renewal on the payroll tax and unemployment benefits.
The Republicans added a stipulation in the provision giving President Obama a time limit to make a decision on the Canada and U.S. oil pipeline, which has caused dissention among some groups. Republicans say the Keystone XL pipeline will create jobs and reduce reliance on foreign sources of oil.
Obama had put off a decision on the project, which pits environmentalists against labor unions and business interests in his political base, until after his bid for a second term, drawing Republican opposition.
The 2 percentage point tax cut affects 160 million taxpayers. The weekly jobless payments average about $300 for millions of people who have been out of work for six months or more. The measure was approved by an 89-10 vote during a Saturday session, according to Time online.