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Congress: A tentative deal

“Top negotiators today have a tentative deal to extend the payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits and a fix to Medicare doctors’ payments, and Congressional leaders began to speak in terms of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ an agreement would be reached,” Roll Call reports, adding, “Weary from protracted floor fights and a campaign by President Barack Obama against Capitol Hill dysfunction, House Republicans on Monday withdrew their demands to fully pay for the $100 billion payroll tax holiday. That gave new oxygen to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to craft the details of a deal that required them only to offset the cost of the “doc fix” and jobless benefits.”

“Top congressional negotiators said Tuesday that they were ‘very close’ to reaching a major deal on a payroll tax cut package that would hand President Obama an early election-year victory,” The Hill writes.

“Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) publicly distanced himself from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday, the latest twist in a relationship put to the test in recent weeks,” The Hill reports. “McConnell declined to endorse a proposal announced by Boehner on Monday to extend the payroll tax holiday without paying for it. The Kentucky senator said last week the payroll tax cut must be offset, only to find himself days later being asked about Boehner’s shift, which would add about $100 billion to the deficit over 10 months.”