Payroll Tax Cuts, Unemployment Benefits Extension Still Under Talks

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Congress could approve a $1 trillion spending measure in order to prevent a government shutdown this weekend.

Negotiators reached a deal late Thursday night. It's expected to be approved Friday.

A deal on a $1 trillion spending bill was reached after Republicans agreed to drop language that would have blocked President Barack Obama's liberalized rules on people who visit and send money to relatives in Cuba. But a GOP provision will stay in the bill thwarting an Obama administration rule on energy efficiency standards that critics argued would make it hard for people to purchase inexpensive incandescent light bulbs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says lawmakers are still working on a plan to renew the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for another year. With bipartisan consensus hard to come by in the 112th Congress, Reid says they are working on a two-month extension for both as a "plan B."

Not surprisingly, Republicans and Democrats disagree on how a year-long extension should be paid for. A Democratic aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the two-month extension on the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits was under strong consideration to buy further time.

Democrats and Republicans also disagree on how long unemployment benefits should be extended, with Obama championing an extension of 99 weeks and House Republicans seeking 20 weeks less. Obama has argued that 3.3 million would be lose their benefits under the Republican plan.

Without an extension on the payroll tax cut, most Americans will find their paycheck smaller.

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