Tales from the Trail

On the 8th day before Christmas, Congress…

‘Twas eight days before Christmas and all through the Hill, lots of legislative stirring…

A nuclear arms treaty with Russia, gays in the military, avoiding a government shutdown, and even loosening immigration law. All these weighty issues are enough to make any politician on Capitol Hill reach for something easier to decide. 
 
So, it’s official. Mark Twain is one of America’s most famous literary icons.

RTRFGEU_CompIt says so in House Resolution 1733. Congress, with its hands full trying to jam a year’s worth of legislative activity through the days before Christmas, managed to squeeze out the Twain bill giving the writer of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” recognition on the 175th anniversary of his birth and the 100th anniversary of his death.

Thomas Edison may not be so lucky. Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn tells FOX  Business Network: “I can tell you that on January 5th as we are sworn in, a bill is going to be put in the hopper … that will push to repeal the light bulb.”

(We will resist the temptation for the obvious “how many lawmakers does it take to screw in a light bulb?”)

U.S. Senate goes two ways on estate taxes

The U.S. Senate went two different ways on the estate tax, which has been a contentious issue for years — a tax congressional Republicans have villified as the “death tax”.BRITAIN-RICHARDSON/

Senators voted 51-48 to include a provision in the fiscal 2010 budget that called for exempting estates at $5 million for individuals and limiting the tax to 35 percent — though the measure is non-binding and could be stripped out when the legislation is melded with a separate budget that passed the House of Representatives.

The amendment provoked a moment of drama in an otherwise long day of voting in the Senate where Democratic leaders scrambled to find the votes to kill the amendment, which scores some political points to those who have rallied against the estate tax for years.