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The House and Senate chambers were nearly empty for passage of the Bill that Saved Christmas.
Following days of Republican posturing and Democratic eye-rolling, most lawmakers who had promised to stay until the people’s business was completed beat a path out of town before the ink was dry on the payroll tax cut extension agreement.
This morning, almost no one ambled into either chamber to pass H.R. 3765, the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 and the latest Congressional standoff that was the most important thing of all time. Before anyone knew it, even on C-SPAN, the measure passed with barely a whisper by unanimous consent.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) took his favorite place in the Senate and presided over the empty chamber, while Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) read the unanimous consent agreement barely heard around the Hill.
In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wielded the gavel.
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) apparently pulled the short straw and asked the bill be passed in the chamber by unanimous consent.
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) then said something. Not sure what.
And the bill was passed, conferees were named; the president will sign it and head to Hawaii for Christmas.
And there you have it: the first session of the 112th Congress, ending not with a bang but a whimper.