In an effort to reach a compromise in one of the two year-end battles facing Congress, Democrats have decided to drop their demand for a surtax on millionaires to finance payroll tax cuts. Without a deal, 160 million workers will face an automatic Social Security tax increase on Jan. 1, but a quick bipartisan agreement on the legislation may be out of reach despite the Democratic retreat, AP notes. "I don't think it's much of a concession," a spokesman for John Boehner says. "It never had any chance of passing the Senate, let alone the House."
Lawmakers are also battling over a separate spending bill, and the squabble threatens to force a federal government shutdown by this weekend. House Republicans have unveiled a $1 trillion spending bill providing budgets for hundreds of government programs. They aim to pass the bill tomorrow, allowing them to depart for their Christmas holidays, Bloomberg reports. Some Republican lawmakers, however, are wary of passing legislation that they haven't had time to read, and as leaders squabble, rank-and file lawmakers from both parties are complaining about Congress' inability to perform its most basic tasks, Politico notes.