By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama, rebuffed by Congress on a yearlong extension of a Social Security payroll tax cut, said Saturday that it would be "inexcusable" for lawmakers not to lengthen the short-term deal when they return from their holiday break.
The measure, passed by the Senate shortly before the president spoke briefly at the White House, would extend the tax cut and long-term jobless benefits for just two months -- a partial victory for Obama that also sets the stage for another fight in February.
While pleased by the Senate vote, Obama said "act it would be inexcusable for Congress not to further extend this middle class tax cut for the rest of the year. It should be a formality, and hopefully it's done with as little drama as possible when they get back in January."
He added, "This really isn't hard. There are plenty of ways to pay for these proposals."
The renewal of the 2-percentage-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax for 160 million workers and unemployment benefits averaging about $300 a week for the additional millions of people who have been out of work for six months or more is a modest step forward for Obama's year-end jobs agenda.
As a condition for GOP support of the payroll tax measure, Obama has to accept a provision demanded by Republicans that forces him to decide within 60 days whether to approve or reject a proposed a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline that promises thousands of jobs.
Obama made no reference to the pipeline in his remarks.
The bill awaits House action next week.
"I'm looking forward to the House moving forward and getting this done when they get back on Monday," Obama said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)