Monday: Payroll tax drama continues

The two-month extension was easy to swallow for the Senate — it maintained the current tax policy, which Democrats wanted, but was not so expensive that it required a tax hike as a pay-for. The Senate amendment costs about $32.2 billion, and was offset by $35.7 billion in increased fees for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, so it cuts the deficit by about $3 billion.

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A House demand for a year-long extension makes for a more costly bill, and likely makes it more difficult for the Senate to agree to bigger cuts to pay for the extensions.

Regardless, Senate Democrats said they wouldn't return at all to work on any new version the House might approve. By sending that message, the Senate is hoping to give the House no choice but to approve the Senate version and leave it at that.

The House meets at 10 a.m. for legislative work. One planned vote is on a motion to concur with the Senate amendment. If Republicans are able to reject the motion, as expected, further votes related to the payroll tax bill are expected likely either late Monday or Tuesday.

Votes aren't scheduled until 6:30 p.m., and further votes on the payroll bill, such as a motion to conference with the Senate or a vote on an alternative proposal, could follow Monday night.

The House also expects to consider five suspension bills:

H.Res. 497, to place a bust of Winston Churchill in the Capitol;

The Senate amendment to H.R. 2056, to instruct the Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to study the impact of insured depository institution failures;

The Senate amendment to H.R. 1801, the Risk-Based Security Screening for Members of the Armed Forces Act;

The Senate amendment to H.R. 1059, to protect the safety of judges by extending the authority of the Judicial Conference to redact sensitive information contained in their financial disclosure reports, and;

The Senate amendment to H.R. 515, the Belarus Democracy and Human Rights Act.

The Senate is out, and only has pro forma sessions scheduled for the rest of the year, on Dec. 20, 23, 27 and 30.