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Obama_Live.jpg

President Obama talks Feb. 21, 2012, at the White House about the importance of the payroll-tax cut and jobless-benefits extension compromise that bi-partisan House and Senate conferees reached the previous week. He is joined by people who posted comments on the White House web site about how the tax cut would affect them. (Associated Press)

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Sen. Joseph Getty (R-Carroll and Baltimore) asked several questions about amendments that the Maryland House attached to the Civil Marriage Protection Act before the Senate Judiciary Committee votes on the act Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, in Annapolis, Md. Although Mr. Getty voted against the bill, it passed by a vote of 7 to 4 and will now move to the Senate floor. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

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MD XGR Senator Ethics_Webe.jpg

Sen. Ulysses Currie, Prince George's Democrat, looks on after the Senate voted to censure him for failing to disclose his work for a grocery store chain in Annapolis on Friday, Feb. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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APTOPIX Payroll Tax_Live.jpg

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (left), Montana Democrat, and House Ways and Means Committee Charman Rep. David Camp, Michigan Republican, raise their hands Feb. 16, 2012, on Capitol Hill as the bipartisan House and Senate conferees gather to sign the compromise agreement. (Associated Press)

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Oscar Goodman, a former mob lawyer and three-time mayor of Las Vegas, stands outside the new museum, housed in a former federal courthouse where one of 14 Senate hearings on organized crime was held in the early 1950s. (Associated Press)

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New Jersey state Sen. Richard J. Codey, a Democrat, speaks in favor of a bill legalizing gay marriage in debate Monday at the state Capitol in Trenton, N.J. The Senate passed the measure on a vote of 24-16, but Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has vowed to veto it. (Associated Press)

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This screen shot shows the blacked-out Wikipedia website announcing a 24-hour protest against proposed legislation — the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect Intellectual Property Act in the Senate — intended to protect intellectual property that critics say could facilitate censorship. (Associated Press)

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Former Sen. Bob Kerrey, Nebraska Democrat, who stepped down from the Senate after two terms in 2001, is considering making a comeback bid. (Associated Press)

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"A lot of us who went into battle turned around and no one was behind us," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, South Carolina Republican, in reference to House Republicans' revolt before Christmas against the Senate-passed deal to extend the payroll-tax cut. The showdown turned into a political debacle for the GOP. (Associated Press)

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination at the Hall at Senate’s End in Columbia, S.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and South Carolina Gov. Nikki R. Haley campaign at the Hall at Senate's End in Columbia, S.C., on Wednesday. Mr. Romney took aim at President Obama on the stump, saying he is in "over his head." (Associated Press)

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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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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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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)