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House, Senate at odds over payroll tax cut

WASHINGTON — The House and Senate barreled toward a collision Monday over some of the chief ingredients of President Barack Obama’s recipe for reviving the economy, with tax increases and jobless benefit cuts awaiting millions of Americans on New Year’s Day if the dispute is not resolved.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he won’t renegotiate an extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment coverage unless the House first approves a short-term bipartisan version the Senate has overwhelmingly approved. House Republicans strongly oppose that bill.

Earlier in the day, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters that he expects the House to reject the Senate bill Monday evening and then request talks.

“This is a question of whether the House of Representatives will be able to fulfill the basic legislative function of passing an overwhelmingly bipartisan agreement in order to protect the economic security of millions of middle-class Americans,” Reid said in a written statement.

The Senate passed a two-month extension of the tax cut and unemployment benefits on Saturday with overwhelming support from senators of both parties and the backing of Obama. It had been negotiated by Senate Democratic and GOP leaders after they could not agree on how to pay for a more expensive, year-long measure.