Thursday: Unemployment, Max Baucus, and paddle boats

The Senate starts at 9:30 a.m., and will take up a new Democratic proposal to extend emergency unemployment benefits for three months.

Earlier this week, Democrats introduced their new plan, which would pay for the cost of the $6.4 billion extension by changing corporate pension rules in a way that increases their tax liability. This so-called "pension smoothing" mechanism would have to be in place for four years in order to pay for the extension.

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Senators will vote on whether to end debate on the new proposal at 11 a.m. — 60 votes are needed, and the vote is a key test of support for the plan.

The Senate will also vote on the nomination of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to be the next U.S. ambassador to China.

The House will finish its work for the week by passing a bill that combines several federal land use bills into one, the Public Access and Lands Improvement Act, H.R. 2954.

A key piece of this bill is found in Title IV, which says no land may be added to the inventory of land by the Bureau of Land Management until BLM makes public a list of all land suitable for disposal.

But includes several other elements, such as provisions that open rivers in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park to paddle boats after three years. It also includes language on grazing, and requires the government to establish a plan for salvaging dead timber in the Stanislaus National Forest in California.

Finally, it requires the government to submit a report to Congress on Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, and allows for land conveyance in Florida, Alaska and Nevada.

The White House said Wednesday it opposes most elements of the bill.