Congress Gets Moving 

Posted: 12:33 am Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

By Jamie Dupree

The signs are there that the Congress will get its work done in the next two weeks and then run home for a Christmas break, but it’s not going to happen in the blink of an eye.

Today the House will vote on a GOP plan that extends the payroll tax cut for another year and also forces the Obama Administration to decide within 60 days on the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

“The American people want jobs,” Speaker John Boehner told reporters in the Capitol Monday evening.

“This is as close to a ‘shovel ready’ project as you’re ever going to see.”

Boehner said he expects bipartisan support for his plan in the House – but it’s unclear how many Democrats will actually break ranks with their leaders and back the plan, which has a host of other provisions at

Democrats have savaged Boehner’s political play involving the XL oil pipeline, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid labeling it a “partisan joke.”

From outside the Beltway, it’s probably hard to understand why we go through this type of Legislative Kabuki Theater, but each side has to get their plans on the record before you can move to the next level of actually cutting a deal.

We saw that the last two weeks in the Senate, where Democrats forced test votes on their own plans, but fell short of the 60 needed to force action.

And we’ll see that on Tuesday with the GOP plan, which has some items that could well form the basis of a deal and other provisions that have no chance of getting through the Senate.

While the payroll tax cut fight isn’t solved, two other major pieces of legislation moved closer to a deal on Monday, as negotiators struck a final agreement on a defense policy bill – though the language on terror detainees could still cause trouble.

Also, both parties seem to be edging closer to a deal on the eight remaining budget bills that are unfinished – they’ll be loaded into one giant $1 trillion measure for approval maybe by the end of the week or early next week.

The conventional wisdom of my colleagues yesterday in the Press Gallery was that maybe lamwakers could get their work done by next Wednesday.