In an effort to resolve a standoff that a growing number of Republicans fear is hurting the party, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., broke with his GOP counterpart, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Thursday and said the House should "pass an extension" of the payroll tax break that expires at the end of this month. McConnell groped for political ground in his first public statement on the matter since Boehner denounced the bipartisan package the Senate GOP leader helped negotiate over the weekend. That two-month plan cleared the Senate 89-10 on Saturday. McConnell said that not only should the House pass the two-month package, but that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., should appoint the conferees that Boehner has demanded to begin formal negotiations between the two chambers over how to lengthen the tax break for a full year. "House Republicans sensibly want greater certainty about the duration of these provisions, while Senate Democrats want more time to negotiate the terms. These goals are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both," McConnell said in the statement. Thus far, Reid and Boehner have staunchly refused to do either. "There is no reason why Congress and the president cannot accomplish all of these things before the end of the year," McConnell said. The statement was the first word from McConnell since he commented, through a spokesman, on the fate of a two-month payroll-tax cut package that he brokered.
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