Lawmakers Reach Agreement To Avert Gov’t Shutdown
Negotiations continue on a measure to extend the payroll tax cut. Some of the issues that are in play and that draw Democratic resistance include proposed ways to pay for this extension, such as charging upper-income seniors more for Medicare.
The Associated Press/Washington Post: House To Vote To Avert Shutdown While Payroll Tax Cut Talks Continue
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters Thursday night that he was still optimistic that bipartisan talks on yearlong extensions of the Social Security payroll tax cut and unemployment coverage would succeed. But as a "Plan B," he said, they were working on a two-month extension as well, which would also prevent cuts in Medicare reimbursements for doctors during that period (12/16).
The New York Times: Lawmakers Agree On Spending Bill, Avoiding Shutdown
While both sides have spent much of the week trying to outmaneuver one another, Thursday seemed to presage the second stage of what has become a familiar pattern in the 112th Congress — the ratcheting back of Stage 1, which is recriminations via news conference — on the road to Stage 3: a final, grudging compromise. At a minimum, the Senate, which has until Dec. 31 to act on the payroll tax before it reverts to a higher level, will seek a two-month stopgap extension of the payroll tax holiday, unemployment insurance and Medicare payment rates for doctors, at a cost of an estimated $40 billion. Senate leaders were still hoping to reach a deal on a longer-term plan (Steinhauer and Pear, 12/15).
Los Angeles Times: Congress Reaches Tentative Deal To Avoid Government Shutdown
Weary of one last round of brinkmanship before the holidays, Congress reached a tentative deal late Thursday on a $1-trillion spending bill that would avert a government shutdown as both parties continued to discuss extending President Obama's payroll tax break. … Talks continued behind closed doors into the evening as both Republicans and Democrats sought a consensus on how to pay for the tax cut. … As Republicans resisted the surtax on wealthier Americans, Democrats were forced to consider GOP options for offsetting the cost of the $200-billion package. Some spending cuts may be acceptable, but others, such as reducing unemployment benefits or charging upper-income seniors more for Medicare, face Democratic resistance. Negotiators were considering a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday, which is set to expire Dec. 31 (Mascaro, 12/15).
The Washington Post: Congressional Leaders Reach Spending Deal To Avoid Government Shutdown
Congressional negotiators signed off Thursday evening on a $1 trillion spending agreement for 2012 for federal agencies, barely 27 hours before a deadline that could have led to a government shutdown. After dropping minor policy prescriptions that President Obama opposed, members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees gave final approval to the plan after a four-day standoff related to Obama's demands to extend the payroll tax holiday for 160 million workers (Kane and Helderman, 12/15).
CQ HealthBeat: HHS Agencies Get Minor Bumps In GOP 2012 Spending Bill
Although the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments would take a funding hit under a fiscal 2012 spending package that House GOP appropriators released early Thursday, the bill does preserve signature Democratic programs that Republicans want to eliminate. Funding to implement the Obama administration's health care overhaul made it into the "megabus" bill, which also included some provisions to please social conservatives, such as restrictions on family planning funding and a ban on needle exchanges (Ethridge, 12/15).