The Republican presidential debates have mattered more this year than anything else in determining which candidate had the momentum and the lead in the race for the White House nomination.Thus, Thursday evening's Sioux City, Iowa debate could be decisive in narrowing the gap between Newt Gingrich and the rest of the field or cementing his frontrunner status.
One of the year-end fights going on in Congress is about unemployment insurance. Democrats want to extend benefits for people who have been out of work for a long time. Republicans say it's time to change the program and lower its cost. The Labor Department estimates that if Congress doesn't act soon, some 2.5 million people could stop receiving checks by March.
Most government funding runs out Friday at midnight. A bitter fight over how to extend an expiring payroll tax break is holding up action on the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill that would keep all agencies open another nine months.
A congressional committee is expected to vote Thursday on a bill that's revived a long-running fight between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. The movie industry says the "Stop Online Piracy Act" would create stronger protections for intellectual property. But critics in the high tech industry say the bill could have unintended consequences for the Internet.
For months, it looked like Mitt Romney might wrap the nomination up quickly. Now, he's engaged in an all-out war with Newt Gingrich. And with only a few short weeks until the Iowa caucuses, Republicans are wrapping their minds around the possibility of a long battle.
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