Glimmers of Hope in the Senate: Renewed Optimism on Payroll-Tax Cut Deal

There are signs of hope today in the Senate that a deal will be struck to extend the payroll-tax cut and avoid a government shutdown.

Both Senate leaders, who met Wednesday night and will continue to meet today, came to the Senate floor this morning refreshed and with a renewed sense of confidence, indicating that they might be close to a deal on both issues.

"We hope that we can come up with something that would get us out of here at a reasonable time in the next few days," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor this morning.

So too echoed the Republican leader.

"We hope to be able to pass a combination of appropriation bills and we are working hard to resolve the remaining differences on the payroll-tax extension and the related issues that are important to both sides," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. "We're confident and optimistic we'll be able to resolve both on a bipartisan basis."

It should be noted that both leaders arrived to the Senate floor this morning with a changed and more united tone..

That said, differences still remain and the deadlines tick closer by the second.

At issue is the payroll bill, with Republicans still fighting for the Keystone oil pipeline provision to remain in the bill, a major sticking point with Democrats and President Obama. Democrats Wednesday night indicated they would be willing to drop the surtax on Americans making more than $1 million a year, which Republicans adamantly opposed, as a way to pay for their bill. But it's unclear whether that would be sufficient to pick up enough votes.

House Republicans Wednesday night discussed the possibility of a stand-alone, $1 trillion spending bill that they could vote on as early as today. Reid said this morning it would be a "mistake" if the House moved on its own bill and left for the holiday.

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