Minn. legislators split vote on payroll taxby Jon Collins, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesota's House delegation split on a payroll tax cut extension, and not entirely along party lines.
The bill that will save most American families about $1,000 this year passed both houses of Congress Friday. President Barack Obama had urged Congress to pass a payroll tax cut.
The bill will extend last year's payroll tax cut until the end of 2012. It also extends some unemployment benefits, although it shortens the length of time that the long-term unemployed can collect them.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison, who voted against the bill, said in a statement that he opposed it because the cuts are funded partly by increased retirement contributions from new federal employees.
"While today's vote was a difficult one, I do not want to endorse the idea that it is OK to take from some middle-class workers to meet our obligations to others, while asking nothing from Wall Street bankers and the super-rich," Ellison said.
Rep. Betty McCollum's spokesperson said she supported the bill in order to avoid another downturn in the economy, although the St. Paul Democrat shares Ellison's concerns.
Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann also voted against the $143 billion package. She characterized the payroll tax reduction as a "gimmick" on MPR's Morning Edition Friday, saying it's wrong not to spend that money on Social Security instead.
"People, more than anything, want government to stop unpaid-for spending," Bachmann said. "This wasn't a job creator by any stretch of the imagination."
The Congressional Budget Office report found that the bill would increase the deficit by $89.3 billion over the next decade.
The bill gained bipartisan approval in the House, 293-132, with the support of Minnesota Republican Reps. John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Chip Cravaack and Democratic Rep. Tim Walz. DFL Rep. Colin Peterson voted no.
The Senate approved the bill 60-36 with the support of both Minnesota senators.