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In Washington, Political Theater on Tap: We Can't Wait

Borrowing a page from President Obama's playbook, House Democrats continued to chide their GOP counterparts Tuesday for remaining on a holiday break while the clock ticks down to an expiration of the payroll tax cut, saying in a press release, "We can't wait", a common theme at White House events.

It's a fight ignited by the president's recent controversial recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the new consumer protection agency, as well as, three labor board nominees. Republicans, furious, charged that Congress was not in recess, and therefore the appointment was illegal. GOP aides insisted that business was being conducted, like the late December extension of the payroll tax holiday and the appointment of conferees to a House-Senate panel charged with extending the law through year's end.

Democrats scoffed.

Each chamber is currently holding "pro forma" sessions every three days as required by the Constitution, in the absence of an adjournment agreement. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., started this phenomenon back in 2008 in part to block recess appointments by then-President George W. Bush.

The definition of a recess is at the heart of this fight, and House Democrats sought on Tuesday in a bit of political theater, as in past weeks, to show no work was on tap for the chamber. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., rejected an attempt by his colleague, Virginia Democrat Jim Moran, to speak on the floor. A press release from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., quickly followed saying Moran was attempting to push for the payroll tax cut conference committee to get to work extending the tax break, which is set to expire at the end of February.

"It's time to get to work to ensure that 160 million Americans see a tax cut through the remainder of the year and the country is not taken to the point of brinkmanship yet again. We can't wait," the Pelosi statement read.

But Senate Democrats were nowhere in sight and have tried no such move during their chamber's brief sessions. Pelosi told reporters last week that her Senate counterparts should also return to town, though no such plans are in the offing.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, meanwhile, was focused on the payroll tax cut law via Twitter, namely the portion pertaining to the cross-country, oil sands Keystone XL pipeline that Republicans negotiated as part of the legislation.

"What is POTUS waiting for?" Boehner tweeted, referring to a decision, within the next 60 days, that President Obama must make, as a result of the law, as to whether or not the pipeline is in the national interest, kick-starting or killing the project.

Boehner's message? "We can't wait."

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