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    Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling gavels the start of the Senate's annual session at the Capitol in Richmond. He later cast a disputed tiebreaking vote on party control of legislative committees.


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    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, is joined by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (left) and Attorney General, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II during a news conference Tuesday with House and Senate Republicans at the Capitol in Richmond. The 2012 session of the Virginia General Assembly begins Wednesday with the Senate split 20-20 by political parties. (Associated Press)


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    Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, here with state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., supports raising the "flush tax" and making it more progressive. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/The Washington Times)


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    Then-Minnesota state Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch was forced out of the post last week amid rumors of an “inappropriate relationship” with a Senate staffer. (Associated Press)


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    APTOPIX Obama Taxes_Lea.jpg

    ** FILE ** President Obama, speaking at a briefing at the White House on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011, said a "faction" of House Republicans is refusing to vote on a Senate bill that would extend a payroll-tax cut for two months. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


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    In this Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011, photo provided by NBC News, Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, appears on NBC's "Meet the Press" in Washington. House Republicans said Sunday they oppose a bipartisan, Senate-approved bill that extends a payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for just two months and said congressional bargainers need to write a new version lasting a longer time. "It's pretty clear I and our members oppose the Senate bill," Boehner said, adding, "I believe two months is just kicking the can down the road." (AP Photo, NBC News, William B. Plowman)


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    SENATE2.jpg

    Sen. Joe Manchin III (left), West Virginia Democrat, and Sen. Mark Kirk, Illinois Republican, comment as the Senate approves legislation that extends Social Security payroll tax cuts for two months, at the Capitol in Washington on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


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    FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III tells the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday he is concerned about the defense spending bill's effect on the bureau's ability to investigate terrorism, saying that while the bill had been modified for the better, it "lacks clarity as to what happens at the time of arrest." The bill has been passed by the House and awaits Senate action Thursday. (Associated Press)


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    20111213-205510-pic-638670934.jpg

    CHALLENGE: "The Senate can take up our bill and amend it, or it can pass its own bill. But the Democrats who run the Senate can't continue to shirk their responsibility to govern," says House Speaker John A. Boehner. (Associated Press)


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