Kyl, above, cautioned Reid against packaging an online poker bill into a “Christmas tree” — a term for a bill that is loaded with disparate legislative priorities.
Even without a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, there’s no shortage of ornaments for a year-end legislative Christmas tree, but senators seeking a vehicle for their favorite bills may be left without one.
One prime example is legislation to establish a system of regulation for legalized online poker that also blocks other forms of Internet gambling. A priority of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the bill would traditionally be the kind of targeted provision that lands in a must-pass bill that advances before the end of a Congress. This year may be different.
Retiring Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., has worked with Reid and his Nevada GOP counterpart Dean Heller on the measure, even though Reid and Heller had a pre-election feud about the measure. Kyl said Tuesday that there would be sufficient Republican votes to get the bill around procedural hurdles on the floor, but he cautioned Reid against packaging it into some sort of “Christmas tree” — a term for a bill that is loaded with disparate legislative priorities.
“The problem is how you ever get a bill like that up. If it ever comes up to the Senate, and it’s offered in the appropriate way — that is to say, not part of some bill that nobody’s going to vote for — then there’s no question about Republican votes in my view,” Kyl said.
Reid appeared genuinely surprised when asked about the developments on the measure during his Tuesday afternoon media availability.
“Everyone listen to this: We suddenly have Republican votes on Internet poker. Two weeks before Christmas. Without being vulgar, what the hell were they putting on it?” Reid said in response to a question.
Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., a supporter of the online sales tax bill, signaled last week that the bill would not hitch a ride on a fiscal cliff agreement.
Work on that sort of proposal comes on top of not only the most notable pieces of the year-end fiscal cliff but also an assortment of smaller tax and policy extensions that are only partially connected to the larger picture regarding marginal income tax rates and automatic spending cuts. Those include the regular ritual of blocking the alternative minimum tax from hitting middle-class taxpayers. The AMT was designed to ensure that upper-income taxpayers pay significant income taxes but was not indexed for inflation.
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