Adriene Hill: Most lawmakers have gone home for the holidays without coming up with an agreement on the payroll tax cut. If Congress can't get a bill through by next year, taxes will go up -- and 2 million people out of work will lose unemployment benefits.
Republican Congressman Bob Gibbs from Ohio voted against the bipartisan Senate agreement to extend the cut through February. He joins us now. Good morning Congressman.
Bob Gibbs: Good morning.
Hill: So, you all are insisting that any extension would need to be at least a year long, but by voting down the two month extension, there is the risk of not getting any extension at all. Is it worth it?
Gibbs: Let's talk about the process. Last week, the United States House of Representatives, we passed off a bill, sent that over to the Senate. And the Senate changed it -- and they have every right to change it. And they sent it back to us, and it's called the Senate ammendments to the bill. The way our Founding Fathers set the system up, we have the ability to either agree with the Senate changes, or we can say we don't agree, and that should put it in the conference to work out the differences in the bill.
Yesterday, Speaker Beohner appointed the conferees for the House, and they're in Washington D.C. with leadership, waiting for Senator Reid to appoint the conferees from the Senate to sit down and work out the differences. And there isn't that much difference to work out. I think it can be worked out.
Hill: Now tied into the payroll tax extension is also an extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed. Without a deal, some of these folks will lose benefits in January. How concerned are you about that?
Gibbs: I'm really concerned, and you know, like I said, I don't want it to happen. And I feel -- as a member of the United States House of Representatives -- I've done my part to ensure that that doesn't happen. And right now, the ball's in Senator Reid's and the United States Senate's court. And I beg them, all they need to do is appoint the conferees.
Hill: The approval rating for Congress right now is at an all time low -- according to a new Gallup poll, just 11 percent in December. Why do you think that is?
Gibbs: People are frustrated, just like I am -- because I think the process is so broken. People are just frustrated; they think that we're not getting along. And the Senate just needs to work the way it's supposed to work -- we send them bills and they send us bills. It's frustrating because we've sent... I've got two bills of the almost 30 bills that Speaker Boehner talks about a lot, that are bills to help improve the business climate here in the United States to get people back to work. And the Senate doesn't even have hearings on them.
Let's at least have open debate and vote on 'em, change 'em, send 'em back. That's how you make good policy, but when you go behind closed doors and try to negotiate at the last minute when deadlines are coming up, that's not the way to function. I think that's why the American people are frustrated and angry at Congress. I'll tell you, if I was giving Congress a rating it'd be lower than than, because the process is broken.
Hill: Congressman Bob Gibbs, thanks so much.
Gibbs: Thank you very much. Happy holidays and Merry Christmas.