House Republicans on Friday morning filed a 369-page bill to extend the current payroll-tax rate for one year, continue unemployment benefits, and prevent a scheduled cut in Medicare physician reimbursements. Congress is struggling to come up with compromises on these issues before the holiday recess. Posting the package on the House Rules Committee website clears the way for promised action early next week. "Everything in the House bill will be offset by spending cuts, many of which the president and independent experts have called for," said Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement accompanying the package's posting. "This package does not include everything Republicans would like, nor does it have all that Democrats have called for; but it is a win for the American people and worthy of the president's signature," argued Boehner. It remains uncertain whether Boehner will have enough votes in his own conference to pass the measure, despite the addition of several "sweeteners" to attract more backing-such as legislation requiring a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline opposed by many Democrats and environmental groups. For now, possible support from many House Democrats seems far from likely. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., launched an offensive on Friday hammering any possibility that GOP lawmakers would adjourn for Christmas without adopting a measure to extend the payroll-tax cut and unemployment insurance. Pelosi panned the GOP plan as a partisan messaging toting "poison pills" that has no chance of acceptance by the Democratic-led Senate, even if passed in the House. She told reporters that Republicans essentially are saying, "We're going to pay for it in ways that affect Medicare beneficiaries. We're going to .. hold this hostage this hostage to the Keystone Pipeline - there's no time for that. This isn't serious." "There isn't time for sending messages," said Pelosi, who reiterated that House Democrats are prepared to stay in session as long as it takes through the holiday season to get the payroll tax holiday and federal jobless benefits extended. In a statement, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said, "Democrats remain willing to work with Republicans to extend these critical measures before Congress adjourns for the year, but I do not believe that the plan Republican leaders proposed this morning would be the best path forward to do so."
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