House Republicans are jumping through hoops to avoid holding an up or down vote on the Senate-approved, bipartisan, two-month extension of payroll tax-cuts and unemployment benefits.
However House Republicans are aware of the political peril that will come with killing a bipartisan plan to extend the payroll tax cut, and they know they’ll likely be held responsible if the tax holiday expires. So they’re structuring the votes in a manner that’s designed to give their members cover from that charge and, perhaps, preserves their right to reconsider the Senate bill in the coming days.
Specifically, they’re not actually going to vote down the Senate bill directly. Instead they will vote on a single measure that rejects the Senate’s plan and simultaneously calls for a conference with Senate negotiators to iron out the (significant) differences between the two chambers’ plans.
To avoid looking like complete asshats -- woops, too late!-- The Republicans are using a procedural stunt to vote "No" by voting "Yes."
They're voting to symbolically support a payroll tax-cut extension, but not voting to actually approve it. Instead they're voting to agree to form a committee to discuss it some more. Because they supposedly really love the idea of a tax-cut extension, but aren't ready to vote for one.
Anytime the president signs any bill into law, it's an unfortunate victory for him as far as the Republicans are concerned. Especially if it's a bill that benefits average Americans. And they are wiggling as hard they can right now to get out of delivering the president a victory. However minor a two-month extension may be, it's still something.
The primary concern of the Republicans right now is not how you will fair in this debate. Their primary concern is how shitty they do or don't look while obstructing a tax cut for working people on the eve of Christmas.