–House, Senate Pass Bill By Unanimous Consent Motions
–President Obama Expected To Sign Payroll Tax Cut Extension Bill Soon
–House, Senate Talks On Year-Long Plan Set To Begin In January

By John Shaw

WASHINGTON (MNI) – Weeks of partisan acrimony ended Friday, when
the House and Senate passed by unanimous consent a bill that would give
a two-month extension to last year’s payroll tax cut, renew unemployment
insurance benefits and prevent a sharp cut in doctor payments under

The measure also formally creates a House-Senate conference
committee to craft a one-year payroll tax-cut extension package.

During brief sessions, the House and Senate passed the measure
without debate, sending the package to President Obama who has said
he will sign the bill.

The Senate convened at 9:30 a.m. Friday and Senate Majority Leader
Reid moved to pass the two-month extension package by unanimous consent.
There were no objections, so the bill was approved and the Senate

The House began its brief session at 10 a.m. House Speaker John
Boehner presided over the session and yielded to Republican
congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri who moved passage of the bill.

No lawmaker objected, so the measure was approved.

The two-month extension bill slightly revises the bill that the
Senate passed Saturday.

As part of the agreement, the House and Senate will convene a
House-Senate conference committee to draft a one-year tax-cut extension

At a briefing following the Senate vote, Reid said Congress should
“work expeditiously to come up with a long-term arrangement.”

Reid said he anticipates a “tough negotiation” to draft the one
year payroll tax cut extension package. “There is nothing off the
table. Everything is on the table,” Reid said.

Reid said there are various issues that Democratic negotiators will
focus on during the talks, including protecting federal workers and
making prudent reforms to the nation’s unemployment insurance program.

Reid said the long, bitter fight over the payroll tax cut extension
was unnecessary, adding that almost all major bills moving through
Congress this year have become “knock down, drag out” fights.

He said the American people have grown deeply weary of this.

“They didn’t send us here to wage partisan battles,” Reid said.

Now that the two-month extension has been approved by the House and
Senate, Congress’s focus will shift to crafting a one-year package. That
bill is expected to cost about $200 billion and much of the debate will
center on how to pay for the package.

** Market News International Washington Bureau: (202) 371-2121 **

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