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CQ Roll Call: Payroll Tax Deal, Roscoe Bartlett's Chief Resigns

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David Hawkings, CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

It's back to the drawing board in Congress as members determine whether to extend a payroll tax break, after senators voted down two measures Dec. 1 that offered two ways to pay for the extensions. David Hawkings, editor-in-chief of CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about the prospects for the payroll tax break extension and other buzz from Congress this week. 

Paying for payroll tax breaks

To pay for the extensions, Democrats wanted to use a surtax on millionaires, while Republicans wanted to use a fed pay freeze and cuts to discretionary spending. There may be hope for a compromise there, though, even though both proposals were voted down yesterday. 

"There actually is a glimmer of compromise in between those two proposals …" says Hawkings. The Republican bill did include some cutbacks for millionaires, adding "means tests" for certain government benefits, meaning people making above a certain amount would not be eligible for things like Medicare, veterans' benefits, and some others.  

While the language is "pretty symbolic," says Hawkings, it appears to signal that the GOP may be willing to talk millionaires in a deal.  "It's at least an opening that the Senate Republicans are signaling that they think that the Democrats' political argument that this is class warfare is starting to catch on," Hawkings says.

House Republicans were scheduled to meet Dec. 2 to talk about whether they'd be willing to cut a deal. 

Roscoe Bartlett's chief of staff resigns

The week also brought the news that Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's (R-Md.) longtime chief of staff, Bud Otis, resigned after he began gauging support for his own run for Bartlett's office, according to Hawkings. 

"The wide expectation is that Roscoe Bartlett is going to retire, and he insists that he's not, and presumably Mr. Otis still thinks his own boss was going to retire," says Hawkings. "And he was starting to try and round up support, and Bartlett's only recourse was to fire the guy to make good on his own promise to run again." 

The Gabriel Zimmerman Meeting Room dedicated

Congress also this week unanimously passed a bill designating a room in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center the "Gabriel Zimmerman Meeting Room." Zimmerman was the Congressional aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that was killed in the shooting targeting Giffords and others in Tucson, Ariz. in February. The room dedicated to Zimmerman is where Democratic chiefs of staff and press secretaries hold weekly strategy meetings. Zimmerman had organized the "Congress on your Corner" event where the shooting occurred.

This audio version of this story incorrectly states that Gabe Zimmerman is the only Congressional staffer to die in the line of duty. Zimmerman is the first staffer to be killed in a violent attack in the line of duty. 

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