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Senate Heads Toward Iraq, AMT Votes Tonight

The Senate is on the verge of wrapping up work for the year, heading toward votes tonight on approving additional funding for the Iraq war and a one-year "patch" for the alternative-minimum tax.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) will offer an amendment, sure to be defeated, to require the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by next May. That will be followed by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offering a proposal to add roughly $40 billion for Iraq combat operations to the $31 billion already approved by the House. Then Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) will propose a non-binding "Sense of the Senate" resolution on Iraq. All these amendments need 60 votes in order to be adopted, and only the McConnell amendment is expected to reach that threshold.

The Senate will then proceed to a House-passed version of AMT relief. The House proposal includes $50 billion in tax increases to offset the AMT extension, and will be rejected by the Senate.

The Senate would then proceed to a final vote on the $516 billion omnibus spending bill, sending it back to the House for final approval.

Senate leaders are also trying to work out an 18-month extension for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). If that agreement is reached, the Senate could finish up its work for the year tonight, altough Wednesday is considered a more likely deadline at this point.