Thursday: Rare-earth minerals in the House, taxes (maybe) in the Senate

The rule for the bill was approved Wednesday; all that's left to do is debate it for an hour, consider seven amendments and pass it before leaving for the week.

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The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m. and has an uncertain day ahead of it. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed a motion to end debate on S. 2237, a bill that would give a tax credit worth up to $500,000 to companies that hire more workers in 2012.

Reid proposed considering that bill with two key amendments — one is a substitute from Democrats that provides tax extenders for small companies, and the other reflects a House Republican proposal to give companies a 20 percent tax cut (H.R. 9, which passed the House in April).

Democrats indicated Wednesday that they are hoping a vote to end debate on that package would happen on Thursday, but if Republicans don't agree to speed up the cloture process, that vote could happen Friday.

Reid also offered to bring up a Democratic bill that would extend the George W. Bush-era tax rates only for people earning less than $250,000, and said he would let Republicans vote on an amendment to extend the lower tax rates for everyone, regardless of income level. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he could not agree to that request immediately, and wanted to see the Democratic bill first.