When Congress managed to agree on a budget resolution this year with $70 billion set aside for tax breaks, it seemed to assure smooth passage for extending President Bush's expiring tax breaks by avoiding risk of a Senate filibuster. In reality, however, the legislation is proving to be very difficult.First, there are more expiring provisions than the $70 billion will protect, so the tax writing committees have been struggling with what to leave in and what to leave out. Then, as deficits started swelling again following Hurricane Katrina, Congress decided that they should not use the full $70 billion, but no more than $60 billion, leaving space for even fewer provisions.

As of this writing, both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have now approved widely different versions of the legislation. Hope of adjourning for the year at Thanksgiving has faded, with a mid-December adjournment now being planned.

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