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The Week Ahead

December 13, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

If congressional leaders have their way, this will be the final week of the 111th Congress. President Obama and most Republicans are hoping the Democrats will end their four years in the majority by passing a full extension of the Bush tax cuts for all income levels. To that end, the Senate is set to take a big cloture vote this afternoon on an amendment to the House's bill to allow the tax cuts to expire for income over $200,000 (H.R. 4853) that would change the bill to extend all the tax cuts, lower the estate tax, extend unemployment benefits, and lots more. If today's vote passes, as is expected, the bill will be sent back to the House by Tuesday evening for follow-up action. That's where things become less clear.

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House Dems Revolt, Vote Down Obama's Tax Deal

December 9, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Dec. 9th, 10:30 pm ET  - as per the news sources cited on our micropublishing account, the Senate is adjourned until tomorrow, with no roll call votes planned. Sen. Reid announced that a first cloture vote on the tax deal will be held 3pm Monday. As of tonight, Cox radio reporter Jamie Dupree has led the way with his summary of the tax deal.

Earlier: the Senate rejected cloture for the Defense Authorization bill (S. 3454 - aka #NDAA), which includes a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (aka #DADT). Details of how the vote went down on the Twitter machine. 

Full #NDAA roll call details will be available Friday Dec. 10th... there's no technical reason why vote results can't be available in real-time, except that CSPAN and the Library of Congress refuse to make their data fully open. If you appreciate our user-friendly explanations of the baffling vortex that is the U.S. Senate, please make a tax-exempt donation. Updates ongoing tomorrow.

Previously: in a nearly unanimous internal caucus vote this afternoon, House Democrats made it clear that they're not going along with the tax cut deal that Obama has negotiated with Republicans. Click through for the background as we work to make the legislative wrangling of the past 24 hours more clear.

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President Obama on Monday announced the "framework" of a deal with congressional Republicans for dealing with the looming expiration of the Bush tax cuts. It's a two-year deal, and it includes a bunch of other stuff, all at a cost about $900 billion. None of it is offset, so this will be a direct increase in the deficit. Let's take a look at the specifics of what's included:

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Holding members of Congress accountable is hard when you can't remember how they voted, so at OpenCongress we put together a scorecard to track how each and every senator voted on the contentious issue of extending unemployment benefits over the last two years. After crunching the numbers, we discovered a few things we expected (Democrats really, really wanted to extend unemployment benefits), a few we didn't (Republicans were surprisingly diverse in their votes), a few head scratchers (Missouri's senators were the least likely to show up to vote despite having a 9.1% unemployment rate) and at least one irrefutable truth (Ben Nelson has a whacked-out definition of "fiscal responsibility").

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Fresh off a meeting with Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] is rewriting the Senate jobs bill, excising many of the tax cuts previously included to draw Republican support. In recent days, the shape of the bill has sparked an intra-party fight among Senate Democrats. Originally crafted by Sen. Dick Durbin [D, IL] and Sen. Byron Dorgan [D, ND], the process was hijacked by the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] and Sen. Chuck Grassley [R, IA], two leadi...

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House Passes a Permanent Lower Estate Tax Rate

December 3, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

By a vote of 225-220, the House of Representatives voted today to make permanent the 2010 estate tax level of 45 percent, with the first $3.5 million of taxable assets per estate being tax exempt.

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The House of Representatives is set to vote this week on a bill that costs one-third of what health care reform proposals in Congress costs and, unlike the health care bills, is completely unpaid for and would be a direct hole in the federal budget.

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