- Associated Press - Thursday, December 22, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. John McCain said Thursday that Congress’ failure to reach agreement on legislation extending a payroll-tax cut for working Americans “hurts the Republican Party.”

Mr. McCain, the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, said his party made a mistake in voting down the Senate-passed version of a bill that would have kept the current payroll-tax relief intact for at least two more months.

Mr. McCain, of Arizona, told CBS’ “The Early Show” he feels bad for 160 million Americans, whom he called “innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire.” He said the House should pass the same bill that cleared the Senate “but put a year on it” and send it back.

“This is really tragic for the American people, and I would say that next November, no incumbent is safe, nor should they be,” Mr. McCain said.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said the House must accept the Senate’s version of the legislation.

“That’s the only option,” Mr. Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, said in an interview on MSNBC. “Let’s get the 60-day matter out of the way so there is no uncertainty, and then let’s sit down and talk about it.”

Mr. Durbin maintained that the congressional impasse has left company human relations directors and payroll administrators confused about how to proceed.

President Obama prepared to make a fresh appeal later Thursday to House Republicans to accept the two-month payroll-tax-cut extension. The White House said that Mr. Obama planned to make a statement at midday.



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