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Today in Washington – December 9, 2010

Today is a busy day for the House and Senate.  The details of a final deal on the Obama tax negotiations have yet to be shared with Senators, yet Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has told Politico that “I’m hoping that in the next day or two that we can be on that.”  The American people have a right to see the final details of this bill before the Senate votes upon it.  We don’t know if special tax earmarks have been added as sweeteners to buy the votes of wobbly Senators.

The Senate is voting this morning on a series of cloture votes on the DREAM Act; H.R.847, the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and possibly the Defense Authorization bill for the purposes of voting on repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  The House has two suspension votes scheduled on so called “Doc Fix” H.R. 4994 and H.R. 6412, a Criminal History Records bill.

One of the emerging problems with this compromise on taxes is that it is a moving target for the American people.  Negotiations are going on behind closed doors in the Capitol right now and some worry that the American people will not be allowed sufficient time to participate in the legislative process.

I wrote over at The Foundry a few hours ago that transparency has been lacking in this tax cut debate.

A developing problem with this secret compromise among leaders in the House, Senate and White House with regard to extending tax cuts for all is the fact that nobody has seen the agreement. Where is it? Why can’t the American people see it? We have read news reports about what is in the agreement, yet we don’t have a copy of it.

The American people have a right to participate in this debate, yet it seems as if elites have retired behind closed doors to iron out details of the bill in secret.

I just called sources in the Senate, and they tell me that rank-and-file Members of the Senate have not seen a copy of the compromise. Senator Jon Kyl (R–AZ) told National Review Online yesterday that the tax deal could be taken up “as early as tomorrow.” Politico reported yesterday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said “I’m hoping that in the next day or two that we can be on that.  In the meantime, we’re going to try to work through the other things that we have.”  This bill could be on the Senate floor later today.

It is possible that the Senate could be voting on this deal as early as today or tomorrow, yet the bill has yet to have one hearing or be posted online.  How is this debate going to play out?

Here is how this may play out over the next 72 hours.  The Senate is expected to take up an existing tax bill on the Senate calendar. They will strike all the provisions in the bill and then schedule a vote on the complete substitute to that bill. Senators Bernie Sanders (I–VT) and Jim DeMint (R–SC) have pledged to filibuster the bill; therefore this may extend the amount of time that the amendment is considered on the Senate floor. If the Senate passes the bill, then it is sent to the House. With Marshall Law adopted in the House, House leadership can pass that bill in one day. It is possible that this radical change in tax law could be on the President’s desk by Friday or Saturday.  Whether you are for this plan or against it as reported in the press, it is an outrage that House and Senate elites are trying to pass it without the participation of the American people. Even though Obamacare did contain many provisions that were inserted into the bill at the last minute, the American people were allowed to debate and participate in that process for several months. We just found out about the Obama tax deal this week, yet some in the Senate want to vote on it before the end of the week.

Yet again, the elites in Washington have tossed aside transparency in an effort to get this deal passed in the House and Senate.  Maybe these Members of Congress should immediately post the deal on the Senate and House websites to allow the American people to read the bill and have an opportunity to communicate with Representatives and Senators on the details of this massive change to tax law.

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