Senate set to vote on Defense Authorization conference report

Democratic leadership has scheduled a vote on the conference report for the Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012. The Senate is once again debating measures in that bill and focusing on the controversial terrorist detainee language.

Following that vote the Senate will vote on the confirmation of Morgan Christen to be a United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit. She is expected to receive approval by a wide margin.


McCain escalates feud with Russian Prime Minister Putin

Ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain (R-Ariz.) responded to Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's suggestion that he had gone "nuts" by claiming Putin was "shaken" by signs of discontent in his country.

Putin recently responded to McCain's tweet "Dear Vlad, The Arab Spring is coming to a neighborhood near you" by suggesting the senior senator from Arizona had gone "nuts" after spending so much time in a prisoner of war camp during the Vietnam war. 


Thursday: Two days to reach a deal

The House and Senate meet with just two days to find a way to fund the government past Friday.

Much of the progress will depend on the Senate. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats wanted to vote on the House payroll tax bill, which will fail in the Senate, before taking up a spending bill. That seemed to reflect the worry Democrats have that approving the spending bill would allow House Republicans to leave for the year, sticking the Senate with a payroll tax bill that Democrats oppose.

Senate Republicans were insisting that the funding bill be disposed of first, particularly given the Friday deadline, but Senate Democrats have refused to sign the conference report on a 2012 spending bill.


Preparing for possibility of shutdown, Senate clears intel appropriations bill

The Senate passed an appropriations bill to fund the government's intelligence activities on Wednesday night, possibly in preparation for a government shutdown, which could occur if funding is not renewed by Friday.

The bill was sponsored by both of the Senate Intelligence Committee's leadersm, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), and would provide for the necessary funds for day-to-day operations of the nation's intelligence agencies.


Lautenberg: GOP 'scrooges' bring 'lumps of coal'

Liberal Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) accused Republicans on Wednesday of acting miserly by trying to place lumps of coal in Americans' stockings and pollution in their lungs for Christmas this year.

"Instead of gifts, the Republican scrooges want lumps of coal in the stockings and coal pollution in our lungs," said Lautenberg, referring to a provision Republicans have included in their payroll tax cut extension bill that would delay the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) industrial boiler regulations.