Joe Biden might as well have worn a cape and tights, appearing on Capitol Hill at 9:15 pm to brief the Senate Democratic caucus. The vice president took on super hero status for many. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is somewhat grateful to Biden, since the talks finally begin to move once the vice president met with the Kentucky Republican.
About two hours into 2013, the Senate passed by an overwhelming 89-8 the package hashed out over two late days of intense conversations between Biden and McConnell. It extends the Bush-era tax cuts for families earning less than $450,000 annually, and delays the $109 billion in defense and domestic budget cuts for two months (giving us a very short window of time before having to do all of this over again.)
The measure heads to the Republican-controlled House where it is expected to see a vote today or tomorrow. - Read more at The Fiscal Times
NEXT KNOCKDOWN DRAG-OUT: THE DEBT CEILING If you thought the fiscal cliff fight was bad, it’s about to get worse. Remember that painstaking battle we had over the debt ceiling in 2011? Well, it’s about to happen again-and soon.
Just as it was confirmed that Congress would miss its midnight deadline and the country would free-fall over the fiscal cliff, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner piled on the bad news and announced that the U.S. government hit its $16.4 trillion debt ceiling on New Years’ eve.
In a letter to Congress, Geithner said the Treasury would begin taking “extraordinary measures” to keep the government’s lights on, giving lawmakers two months to battle over how to raise the borrowing limit or the government will default on its debt, causing a government shutdown and a credit downgrade. And with Congress’ track record, it’s probably going to take the full two months. - Read the Treasury Department’s letter here
FARM BILL’s LAST CHANCE The last-minute package passed through the Senate early this morning includes a nine-month extension of the farm bill. The bill’s advocates have been spreading fear for weeks that if the measure was left unaddressed the price of milk would soar to as much as $7, some even deemed it the “milk cliff.” If the House shoots down the Senate’s fiscal cliff package and fails to address the farm bill, an old 1949 farm law will take effect, and require the Agriculture Department to begin buying up dairy products at double the price today. The outdated law could potentially hike the price of milk up to $6 or $7 per gallon. - Read more at Politico
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