Washington – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), gave the following remarks after both the Senate and House passed the Payroll Tax Conference Report:
“We reached a consensus today that will maintain the payroll tax holiday for 160 million American families, help our seniors through Medicare, and continue to provide extended unemployment benefits to those still out of work through no fault of their own. In what has become all too rare an occurrence, the Senate and the Congress actually worked out their differences to reconcile legislation. I signed the document that allowed this process to move forward because I believe there is too much gridlock on Capitol Hill. I also successfully fought side-by-side with fellow Marylander Rep. Chris Van Hollen, to remove provisions that were in the House bill that would have increased pension contributions for current federal workers, reduced a general reduction in pension benefits for federal workers, and added an additional year of a pay freeze.
“Unfortunately, the final conference agreement does include increased pension contributions for new federal workers starting in 2013. I think it was wrong to make one group of middle-class workers sacrifice to pay for extending the long-term unemployment benefits. This is truly emergency spending and it should not have needed to be paid for in the first place. But the bill targets hard-working federal employees rather than asking individuals with incomes over $1 million to pay something more toward getting our budget under control. That would have been the responsible thing to do. I disagreed with the decision that we didn’t have to pay for the extension of the payroll tax holiday but truly emergency spending for extending unemployment benefits required offsets. For these reasons, I voted against this conference report. There are some lawmakers who have decided to target federal workers as scapegoats for our fiscal mess and I will not support such actions. These civil servants are men and women on the front lines keeping America safe and healthy; they deserve our support.”