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Another holiday means another deadline for important legislation in Congress, and opportunities for each political party to embarrass the other. We hear what's at stake for the latest example of dysfunctional government. Also, President Obama salutes returning troops at Ft. Bragg, and an influential government agency says it's not just texting, updating Facebook or watching movies, but any use of cell phones by drivers that ought to be banned by drivers.

Banner image: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (L) speaks as House Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) (R) listens during a news conference December 13, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Making News Obama Salutes Returning Troops at Ft. Bragg 7 MIN, 25 SEC

President Obama who won office in part by opposing the war in Iraq today celebrated its end with thanks to a crowd of soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The President alluded to nine years of controversy over the war but told the soldiers their sacrifices help to unify the country. Jamie Tarabay is Managing Editor of National Security and Foreign Affairs for the National Journal.


Jamie Tarabay, Al Jazeera America (@jamietarabay)

Main Topic Holiday Sausage-Making on Capitol Hill 34 MIN, 36 SEC

Last night, the Republican House passed a bill extending payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance. An hour later, the Senate's Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, called it "dead on arrival." Deadline gamesmanship is under way in both houses of Congress. Bills that "must pass" before the holiday recess are loaded with so-called "poison pills." Other matters being held hostage include unemployment benefits and appropriations to keep government agencies open. Both parties are playing the game, with the President threatening vetoes and saying that, "nothing gets done until everything gets done." Can Congress accomplish its basic work in time to go home for Christmas? What's the price of dysfunctional government in the long term?

Jonathan Allen, Sidewire / Roll Call (@jonallendc)
Jared Bernstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (@econjared)
Doug Holtz-Eakin, American Action Forum (@djheakin)
Sarah Binder, Brookings Institution (@bindersab)
Massimo Calabresi, Time

Reporter's Notebook Should All Use of Cell Phones While Driving Be Banned? 8 MIN, 37 SEC

Some proportion of American drivers think it's up to them to decide if they can text, tweet or talk on a cell phone while they're behind the wheel.  Now, after investigating numerous crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board says that talking on wireless head sets while driving a car is just as dangerous as holding the phone to the ear, and that all states should ban all cell phone use except during emergencies. Joe White is a senior editor at the Wall Street Journal who also writes the column Eyes on the Road.

Joe White, Wall Street Journal (@wsjeyesonroad)

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