Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., was paid a compliment Tuesday by the Democrat who wants his job.
Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, praised Lugar for voting for a compromise plan to extend the payroll tax cut for two months and urging the House to do the same.
“I thank Senator Lugar for reaching across the aisle and standing with me to support this tax cut over the objections of extremists in his party,” Donnelly, who seeks the Democratic nomination for Senate next year, said in a statement.
“I said last week that Congress should stay in session through Christmas if that’s what it took to make sure taxes don’t go up on Hoosier families. I’m glad Senator Lugar decided to join me in standing up to the House Republican leadership. This tax cut will help Hoosier families.”
The Republican majority in the House rejected the Senate plan early Tuesday afternoon. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had said House and Senate conferees should work out their differences and extend the tax cut for a year. A two-month extension "causes uncertainty for job creators," Boehner said Monday.
Lugar was among 39 Republicans in the Senate -- out of 47 GOP members -- to favor the two-month extension on Saturday. The bill passed 89-10 in the Democratic-controlled chamber.
In a Monday interview with MSNBC, Lugar said he was hopeful the House would endorse the Senate legislation because "it seems to me this is the best for the country as well as for all the individuals who are affected."
The Social Security payroll tax cut, due to expire Dec. 31, affects 160 million people. The reduction from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent is worth $1,000 for a person earning $50,000 a year, the Associated Press reported. The bill also would have extended unemployment benefits and halted a planned Medicare payment cut for physicians.
Lugar said Monday on MSNBC that his provision in the bill that requires President Obama to make a decision in 60 days on whether to allow construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline is "the single most important thing" to create jobs in the country. "It's a no-brainer."
President Obama had threatened to veto a yearlong tax-cut extension the House produced last week because of elements -- such as tapping federal health care funds to help pay for the tax holiday -- that the White House said was a Republican effort "to refight old political battles" and "introduce ideological issues."
Also Tuesday, Lugar's re-election campaign announced it had begun running its first radio advertisement. The commercial is critical of Obama's decision to delay a decision on the 1,700-mile Keystone pipeline, which would run from Canada to Texas.
Lugar is challenged in the 2012 Republican primary election by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Donnelly is the only candidate for the Democratic nomination.