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Senate GOP Forming Response to White House Recess Picks

“All these [tax credits] are extremely important and are job creating in and of themselves,” Reid said. “I am afraid if we don’t do it now with this conference, we are not going to do it until the end of the year and a lot of businesses will be hurt.”

Reid also said Democratic conferees are expected to push for a millionaire’s tax to help offset the cost of the package that emerges. Democratic conferees include Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Benjamin Cardin (Md.) and Bob Casey (Pa.) as well as Reps. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), Sander Levin (Mich.), Xavier Becerra (Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Henry Waxman (Calif.).

“I think you will find [with] the conference that starts today that Sen. Baucus and his [Senate] conferees are going to push for them,” Reid said. “And I think that you will find that the [House Democratic conferees] will join them.”

Reid also said he doesn’t think the final deal should include a provision to hasten approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. He acknowledged some Democrats, including Baucus, support the project and said he has given no instruction to Democrats not to include the provision in the final package.

Baucus “is certainly a free agent,” Reid said. “There are a number of states [that favor the project.] In fact, both Senators from Montana approve of that. We’ll just have to wait and see how that comes out.”

As part of December’s two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, Republicans inserted language that forced the president to make a decision within 60 days on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Recently, Obama announced he would have to reject the pipeline because he said his administration had not been given enough time to vet the project.

House Republicans are also riled up about the recess appointments. Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (Texas) wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder this week seeking materials created before the Jan. 6 Office of Legal Counsel opinion on the appointments.

The OLC issued an opinion two days after the Jan. 4 appointments making the argument why they were legal. The opinion said that the president has authority to make the move and that the Constitution, precedent and practice support the White House position that the pro forma strategy does not count as a recess.

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