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Senate tax bill vote: Open thread; Update: 60-vote cloture hurdle cleared

By Michelle Malkin  •  December 13, 2010 02:55 PM

O, Christmas Tree…

The Senate is gearing up for a “test vote” on the tax/spending deal this afternoon at around 3pm Eastern.

As I first assessed the deal last week, it’s temporary tax relief for more endless jobless benefits — and now larded with the usual assortment of goodies and bribes and handouts and subsidies.

Sen. McCain just finished assailing all the pork and spending in the deal, but in true Maaaaaaaaaaaaaverick form, he’s voting for it, anyway.

The Heritage Foundation weighs in today against the deal after initially supporting it:

Any piece of legislation must be both constitutional and improve the condition of the American people. When President Obama and Congressional Republicans first announced their tax deal early last week, our reaction was to hold our noses against its bad elements; on balance, we thought the extension of the current tax rates was laudable. Now, however, the full text of the bill has been released and we see all the bad things that were in the original deal. Meanwhile, liberals in Congress are walking away even from that deal, and are holding the country hostage to their hatred of those they call “the rich.” The tax cut deal, we now know, has been so freighted with liberal special interest tax giveaways that true conservatives cannot support it in good faith.

The Hill sets the scene for the vote:

enators will begin voting at 3 p.m. to quash a filibuster by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and bring the package up for a final vote.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will hold the vote open to give senators delayed by wintry weather a chance to return to the Capitol. The vote could last for one to a few hours, depending on how long lawmakers remain stranded at their home-state airports.

If Reid musters 60 votes, as expected, that would set up a vote on final passage on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on how late the cloture vote lasts Monday. Opponents of the legislation could force a full 30 hours to elapse between the vote to end a filibuster and a vote on final passage.

It remains unclear whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will bring the package to the House floor without making substantial changes to it. The House Democratic Caucus, in a non-binding vote last week, objected to the tax deal negotiated by President Obama and Republicans.

Stand by for updates…

Update 2:57pm Eastern: Grassley defends ethanol subsidy by pointing to all the 70-plus other tax subsidies in the bill. Sigh.

Update 4:26pm Eastern: The tax/spending bill passed the 60-vote cloture threshold. Sen. Landrieu gave a pained I-hate-it-but-I’ll-vote-for-it speech to rival McCain’s. Roll call continues as late votes trail in.

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