Here's a look at some notable developments in the nation's capital on Thursday:
Taxes: Senate Democrats privately considered punting President Barack Obama's call to preserve middle class tax cuts until after the election, with several predicting that postponing the debate was increasingly likely. "The climate is not conducive to getting much done before the election," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. "If I were a betting man, I would say we deal with them" later in the fall. The sweeping tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 are due to expire in January. Republicans want to extend them all, while Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress want to extend them for individuals making less then $200,000 and married couples making less than $250,000. If Congress takes no action, taxpayers at every income level face significant tax increases next year.
Axelrod: David Axelrod, a top adviser to the president and the main architect of his election victory in 2008, will be leaving the White House next year and returning to Chicago to work on the Obama re-election campaign. Axelrod has not specified a departure date, but plans to remain in his current position "well into 2011," the White House said.
Courts: Senate Democrats said that Republicans preventing votes on some of Obama's U.S. district court nominees is a game-changing tactic that would bring retaliation against a GOP president someday. While some of the president's lower court nominees have been branded judicial activists by Republicans, both parties have traditionally agreed they deserve a filibuster-free, simple-majority confirmation vote.
Oil: Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu says she will block a Senate vote to confirm the nominee to a key White House economic office to protest the six-month moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling in the gulf. Landrieu says she will object to a vote on Jacob Lew to head the Office of Management and Budget until the administration lifts or significantly modifies the moratorium.
Food: Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn has blocked consideration of a food safety bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration more power to prevent food-borne illness by recalls of tainted products, increased inspections and stricter standards. Coburn said he objected because the bill is not paid for.
campaignS: Senate Republicans stood fast in blocking legislation requiring special interest groups running campaign ads to identify their donors. All 39 Republicans voted to stop the campaign disclosure bill from coming to the Senate floor.
UNIONS: Senate Republicans failed in their bid to overturn a new rule making it easier for unions to organize workers in the airline and railroad industries. The new rule changes how votes are counted in union representation elections. It allows employees to unionize if a majority of those voting support the union.