In session for a whopping 1 minute, 28 seconds, the Senate today passed by unanimous consent the u pdated, slightly tweaked version of the two-month payroll tax cut extension.
Hailing this as a "new day," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., celebrated and then appointed, as the compromise called for, his designees for the conference committee to negotiate a year-long payroll tax deal. The appointees are: Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Jack Reed, D-R.I.; and Bob Casey, D-Pa.
The group will lose no time in getting down to work.
"They're going to work expeditiously to come up with a long-term arrangement on the payroll tax, on unemployment, of course, and on the doc fix," Reid said. "I have instructed my staff to get me together with them sometime next week."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will announce his three picks for the committee soon, likely later today, according to his office.
Reid left with departing messages to Republicans: His message to the Republican leader in the Senate should really be interpreted as for the House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio: "Most everything we do around here is based on trust," Reid said. "That's how we get things done. And I want everyone to understand how much I appreciate Mitch McConnell sticking by the arrangement, the agreement that we made. "
Reid then sent another message to the House Republican freshman, who've been a consistent thorn in his, and even his fellow Republicans' sides, during the final days of closing out the deal in Congress.
"I hope this Congress has had a very good learning experience, especially those who are newer to this body. Everything we do around here does not have to wind up in a fight. That isn't the way things need to be."
Reid said that most of what Congress did this year had been a "knock-down, drag-out fight," and there's no reason why it should remain that way next year.
"I would hope, especially, I repeat, the new members of the House will understand that that legislation is the art of compromise, consensus building, not trying to push your way through on issues [for which] you don't have the support of the American people."