Congress made quick work this morning of their legislative business sending President Barack Obama a bill that will extend for two months a payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits and physician Medicare payments.
With that done – and the partisan fighting ended at least through the holidays – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested to any bored reporters that they turn their attention to college basketball.
“UNLV plays California on CBS, if you are bored this afternoon,” Reid said at the end of a press conference inside the U.S. Capitol.
The Rebels, ranked 21st in the latest AP Poll, take on the University of California at 2 p.m. PST at the Thomas & Mack Center.
As to the substance of the press conference, Reid said he was grateful to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for sticking to an agreement they reached on the two-month extension after House Republicans, at first, opposed it.
Reid also named conferees that will attempt to negotiate a longer extension. Most Democrats and Republicans in Congress say they want a one-year extension but disagree on how to pay for the additional benefits.
Reid’s team includes: Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
Reid has already spoken individually to them and plans to meet with the group next week so that they can begin to work on a long-term resolution.
“Working families we have helped for a couple of months but that is not enough,” he said.
As to the negotiations, Reid hinted that Senate Democrats would try again to pay for the extensions through a tax on the wealthy. He also suggested that they would fight against Republican proposals to freeze federal salaries for an extended period.
And, Reid said that Senate Democrats would resist reducing unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed.