No last-minute surprises in the Senate: The chamber easily passed legislation this morning that will keep the payroll tax cut in place for another two months, reports Politico. The framework of the deal, which also extends jobless benefits, had been ironed out last night. It sailed through today on a vote of 89-10. The House will take it up next week, and Senate aides tell the Hill that John Boehner will likely back the measure, but he won't do so publicly until he briefs members.
As expected, the legislation also includes a Republican provision to step up pressure on President Obama over the proposed Keystone oil pipeline. It calls for a quick decision from the White House, even though Obama had hoped to put off that call until after the 2012 elections. Democratic aides tell the New York Times that the short deadline actually gives Obama a handy excuse to reject the pipeline proposal because the State Department won't have time to conduct the necessary review. (Later, the Senate passed a $1 trillion budget bill as expected, notes AP; it had already cleared the House.)