OVERNIGHT MONEY: Lawmakers aim to wrap up votes on payroll tax cut package

Still, even as 17 of the 20 conferees signed on to the deal — eight House Republicans, five House Democrats and four Senate Democrats — there were still signs of discontent.

Maryland Democrats Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinDems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress Former New Mexico gov: Trump's foreign policy is getting 'criticized by everybody' Dems put hold on McFarland nomination over contradictory testimony: report MORE and Rep. Chris Van Hollen applauded a last-minute compromise that would force only new federal employees to contribute more to their pension funds, a provision that will help pay for the emergency unemployment insurance.

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“Whenever we can get something done here that’s bipartisan, and that has a positive impact on jobs, that’s a good result,” said Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyThe Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Dems look to use Moore against GOP MORE Jr. of Pennsylvania, one of four Senate Democrats who signed the conference report.

In the end, none of the three Senate Republicans on the panel signed on to the report after complaining that they were shut out of the negotiations that crafted the deal.

Then, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he was breaking with other party leaders to oppose the payroll tax agreement.

The House minority whip said a provision to cut retirement funds for some federal workers proved to be a deal-breaker.

Hoyer was joined by at least three Senate Democrats — Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Comey back in the spotlight after Flynn makes a deal Warner: Every week another shoe drops in Russia investigation MORE (Va.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Wealthy outsiders threaten to shake up GOP Senate primaries MORE (W.Va.) and Tom HarkinTom HarkinDemocrats are all talk when it comes to DC statehood The Hill's 12:30 Report Distance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday MORE (Iowa), all outlining why they will oppose the deal that seemed a long way from complete earlier this week. 

The signing of the report marked just the latest step in what has been a chaotic week for the conference committee that started when House GOP leaders on Monday dropped their demand to pay for the payroll tax cut.

Still, despite that opposition, the conference report should have enough support to pass each chamber and take the trip down Pennsylvania to the White House, more than a week ahead of when the bill's provisions were set to expire. 


BREAKING THURSDAY

Choices galore: Sens. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnFormer GOP senator: Trump has a personality disorder Lobbying World -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground MORE (R-Okla.) and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSessions argued presidents can obstruct justice in Clinton impeachment trial Trump Jr. to meet with Senate panel amid Russia probe Trump’s Russian winter grows colder with Flynn plea deal MORE (R-N.C.) unveiled their "Seniors' Choice Act" on Thursday that would give seniors the choice of receiving federal subsidies — called "premium support" by supporters — to buy private insurance instead of traditional Medicare, starting in 2016.

The bill is similar to a bipartisan proposal unveiled late last year by Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocratic senator predicts Franken will resign Thursday Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Lobbying world MORE (D-Ore.). Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have promised to support similar legislation if elected.

GM hits the jackpot of profits: General Motors announced Thursday it made a profit of $7.6 billion in 2011, a record for the company.

“In our first full year as a public company, we grew the top and bottom lines, advanced our global market share and made strategic investments in our brands around the world,” GM CEO Dan Akerson said in a statement.

Consumer bureau ramps up protections: Large debt collectors and credit-reporting agencies will face federal scrutiny for the first time under new rules being drafted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

CFPB Director Richard Cordray told reporters Thursday that those two industries "have gone unsupervised for too long," and vowed to increase oversight to ensure they are not taking advantage of consumers.

"The supervision tool is a very powerful tool. It's a very powerful way for us to secure compliance with the law," he said. "It's an authority I wish I had had in previous positions."


LOOSE CHANGE

Geithner gets smiley: A jovial Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner rebutted arguments from Republicans that the White House alone is to blame for the lack of a long-term deficit solution, repeatedly turning the focus on GOP refusals to raise taxes on the wealthy and on GOP proposals that would increase healthcare costs for seniors. 

His verbal gymnastics infuriated members of the panel.

“You can smile and laugh about it all you want," Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzDem demands documents from TSA after scathing security report Chaffetz replacement sworn in as House member Democrats expand House map after election victories MORE (R-Utah) said at one point, cutting him off.

Geithner said that if Republicans can come to the table and accept significant revenue increases, then progress on long-term problems can be made. Accepting the Obama budget, which has $1.5 trillion in new taxes, would be a first step, he said.

“If we can’t agree on the next 10 years, why are you are so focused on the next 100 years or millennium?” he asked.

Facing reality: The troubled U.S. Postal Service released an updated business plan on Thursday that includes raising the price of first-class stamps to 50 cents from 45 cents.

The postal service lost $3.3 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 and is set to run up against its debt ceiling in the fall.

Competing bills in Congress — notably in the Senate by Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperAvalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Overnight Cybersecurity: Mueller probe cost .7M in early months | Senate confirms Homeland Security nominee | Consumer agency limits data collection | Arrest in Andromeda botnet investigation Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (D-Del.) and in the House by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) — would trim services and address the way the services pays for health benefits in order to shore up its fiscal position. The Obama budget proposes a $4 billion fix that would end Saturday mail.

USPS on Thursday also proposes ending six-day mail. The plan would sever the service from the federal health benefits system and cut 155,000 employees mostly through retirement by 2016.

"The picture here is perfectly clear — unless Congress acts quickly and significantly to provide the Postal Service with the tools and resources it needs to modernize its business model, this American institution will be insolvent within months," Carper said in a statement. 

"This is a dire situation, but it is not hopeless," he said. 

"We can save the Postal Service for future generations — and without further burdening taxpayers — if we act decisively and strategically." 

Issa expressed concern about the plan.

“Unfortunately, too much of the Postal Service’s plan is still an accounting fantasy," he said in a statement. "The reality remains that USPS must make difficult decisions to cut costs and realign its network to meet America’s declining use of paper mail."


ECONOMIC INDICATORS 

Consumer Price Index (CPI): The Labor Department releases its measure of the price level of a fixed market basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. CPI is the most widely cited inflation indicator, and it is used to calculate cost of living adjustments for government programs.

Leading Indicators: The Conference Board will release a batch of previously announced economic indicators: new orders, jobless claims, money supply, average workweek, building permits and stock prices. 


WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

Jobless claims drop to four-year low

Insider-trading bill sponsors keep pressure on leaders

— Geithner explains why Obama never embraced Bowles-Simpson

Housing starts rise in January as sector slowly recovers

— Ryan urges GOP candidates to 'prepare the country' for tax, entitlement reform

 And Santorum releases tax returns; paid 28 percent rate in 2010

Catch us on Twitter: @VickoftheHill, @peteschroeder, @elwasson and @berniebecker3

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