David Hawkings, CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing
A stopgap measure funding the federal government runs out Dec. 16, meanwhile a payroll tax break in unemployment benefits expire at the end of the year. Members of Congress are returning to Washington amidst a climate of partisanship, punctuated last week by the failure of the supercommittee to reach a deficit reduction deal. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks about the situation. Following are highlights of his analysis.
Hawkings on the likelihood that Congress will reach a long-term agreement by Dec. 16: "I think it's getting less and less likely by the day. There's supposed to be 12 bills to fund the government a year at a time... and a couple weeks ago, they passed one bill that wrapped up three of those. But it took a lot of heavy lifting by the Republican leadership to get the bill through because so many conservatives in their own ranks are so annoyed at the spending levels... Conservatives are angry with this, and the longer they resist, the likelier it is that no big budget deal will get done in the next three weeks, and then they'll have to kick that one into next year."
On Republicans' position on extending payroll tax breaks and unemployment benefits: "[House Majority Leader] Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), said he is for an extension of the so-called payroll tax holiday that was imposed a year ago as an economic simulative measure. He seemed to suggest it was working. But [Senate Minority Whip] Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said on the Sunday talk shows that he doesn't think it's working, and doesn't think it needs to be extended at all. Either way, if it is extended, some conservatives are going to want to pay for it by making more spending cuts. And the Democrats -- for their parts -- are going to return to their theme of wanting to pay for things with a little bit of a higher tax on millionaires, which the Republicans don't like. So it looks like another standoff there as well."