Washington Daybook: Petition Drive Over Fiscal Cliff

Photograph by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Protesters rally together outside the office of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Dec. 10, 2012 in Doral, Florida. The protesters are hoping that Senators like Rubio will not cut medicare/social security benefits and will agree to raise taxes on the top 2% of earners in the country.

Negotiations aimed at avoiding the fiscal cliff and prospects for a disaster-aid supplemental are sure to be the hot topics as members of Congress from both parties hold their weekly caucuses today.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, delivers petitions with 65,000 signatures asking Congress to keep Social Security and Medicare out of the fiscal cliff debate, while Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, and Rep. Paul Broun, a Georgia Republican, counter with a petition signed by more than 150,000 people demanding that Republican leaders refuse any proposed tax increase.

The U.S. Treasury may add fuel to the fire when it reports the latest data on the U.S. budget deficit, which probably widened in November from the same month a year earlier, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Beyond the cliff, the House plans to take up five bills today, including measures to permit the temporary sale of now-banned asthma inhalers and to allow the Transportation Security Administration to skip the re-screening of some bags of international passengers. The Senate considers a bill backed by community banks that would extend the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Transaction Account Guarantee Program.

President Barack Obama holds a conference call with community leaders and mayors from across the country just before the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee announces its decision on U.S. interest rates.

And if you see autograph hunters on the first floor of the Rayburn Building today, that’s probably the hearing where Hall of Famer Dick Butkus will be testifying about human growth hormone testing in the NFL.

 Katherine Rizzo contributed to this report.

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