Congress Works To Keep Government Funded As Latest Continuing Resolution Ends

Congress is scheduled to adjourn for the holidays within the week, but there’s a hefty to-do list remaining before they can leave Washington.  The House and Senate have to keep the government funded and operating past Friday, when their latest Continuing Resolution or “CR” runs out.

They also face a series of appropriations bills and they have to decide whether to renew the payroll tax holiday.

Senator Mark Begich says the payroll tax break, which reduced the amount American workers paid on taxes by nearly $1,000, is one of his priorities:

“I think we have a chance to get the payroll tax extension done, I think it’s important for Alaskans, to the tune of $300 million, nationwide it’s 160 million people.  So it’s a pretty significant issue,” Begich said.

At this point Democrats and Republicans are split on how to pay for an extension of the payroll tax holiday.

Alaska’s GOP Congressman Don Young says he thinks there’s a lot of room for agreement across party lines, but he fears the constant attention of media and 24-hour news reports are causing more showboating and less hard work.

“Unfortunately everybody’s playing bobblehead politics.  Bobblehead politics is because instantaneously the report on Fox News or rush Limbaugh or CNN or Chris Matthews and that type thing and we’re always in a flux.  Because everybody’s worried about how folks will perceive it, instead of taking a position and saying this is what we’re going to do and do it.  And that’s the biggest challenge we’ve got this coming week,” Young said.

Senator Lisa Murkowski says competing versions of the payroll tax extension proposals on both sides of the aisle are in danger of getting stuck on their partisan messaging points.  But she does say substantive progress has been made recently on some the appropriations, or funding bills, targeted at different departments and areas of government.  She says the House and Senate should keep hammering away and get them passed, rather than waiting til the last possible moment.

“Let’s not put the country through this situation where they’re wondering whether or not the government’s going to be shut down.  We’ve cried wolf now on this issue several times already this year.  This is not the season to be doing it.  We need to get our work done,” Murkowski said.

Right now it looks like Congress will likely work through the week and into the weekend.

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