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Senate Dems Threaten to Cancel Holiday Break to Push Payroll Tax Holiday

u.s. capitol at night_040711

In this April 7, 2011, file photo the U.S. Capitol in Washington is illuminated at night as Congress work late to avert a government shutdown.

Senate Democrats seem to have declared a war on Christmas break -- for the third year in a row -- vowing to stay in Washington over the holidays to push through business that hasn't passed during regularly scheduled sessions, including the payroll tax cut.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested President Obama was willing to stay home while his family goes on vacation to Hawaii so Congress can extend the payroll tax holiday.

"I'll paraphrase but I'm pretty close. He said Michele and the girls are gonna have a great time in Hawaii. They don't need me there," Reid told reporters.

The Nevada Democrat added: "I have a simple message for my Republican colleagues: We will make sure we pass this tax cut for the middle class before the end of the year. We're not going to leave town until it's completed, and I say to my Republican colleagues: We can do it the easy way or we can do it the hard way."

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York agreed.

"We're going to stay here as long as it takes to get this done," Schumer said. "We'd prefer to negotiate and come up with a bipartisan agreement that includes the tax break for the middle class, but if they won't agree to that we will stay here to Christmas or even to New Year's to get it done."

But a Senate Republican leadership aide suggested Democrats are stalling so they can use the pressure of a holiday deadline to push their agenda.

"It would sure help if (Reid) produced a bill that could pass either the House or the Senate," the aide told Fox News. "What are we doing this week that will finish Congress' work?"

Republicans have said that a payroll tax cut -- dropping the employee contribution to 3.1 percent from 6.2 percent -- must be paid for since the money comes out of the Social Security trust fund

"We have a trust fund that we all know is going broke," House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday. "Real work needs to be done to preserve the Social Security trust fund so that we can make sure we've got the money to pay the benefits for the tens of millions of Americans who depend upon it."

But House Democrats counter that the Social Security actuary says the fund can afford to take the hit, and pointed to a letter Actuary Stephen Goss sent Tuesday to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Budget Director Jack Lew saying the bill "would have a negligible effect on the financial status" of seniors, survivors and disability insurance funds paid out "in both the near term and the long term."

"Republicans have another chance to decide whose side they're on – all Americans or the one percent," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

"We must not leave Washington, D.C., for the holidays without extending the payroll tax cut for our working families or unemployment benefits for those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own," Pelosi said continued.

While Senate Democrats held a press conference to drop the challenge, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor quietly prepared House Republicans for the possibility of an extended schedule.

"Beginning next Monday, the House will not adjourn again until we have concluded our legislative business for the first session of the 112th Congress," Cantor said in an internal communication obtained by Fox News.

Last year, Congress was sparring over a budget deal before the holiday break, but passed a continuing resolution a few days before Christmas. In 2009, the Senate passed the controversial health care bill on Christmas Eve.