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Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain arrives for votes last evening. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

With administration and leadership aides frantically negotiating with holdout senators, the Senate's tax vote scheduled for late this week could lapse into next week.

That would raise everyone's blood pressure: Everything is fragile.

  • A senior administration official told me: "We're still getting it done in a matter of a couple months, instead of a couple of years. It's OK if it takes a few extra days."
  • The bill is in the ugly sausage-making phase, with senators taking advantage of their leverage to make demands. At least six GOP senators are holding out (John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Steve Daines of Montana).
  • Lose three of those, and the bill is dead.
  • McCain says he's undecided. His concerns? "A lot of things."
  • Will be drama to the end: The well-wired Chris Krueger of Cowen has "~8 Republican Senators on fence/lean-no ... Any slippage, and momentum goes other direction with Alabama Senate election [Dec. 12], and shutdown negotiations next week."

The state o' play, from more than half a dozen senior Republicans interviewed by Swan:

  • "High concern" about Corker of Tennessee and Johnson of Wisconsin: They're simply not on board yet, and they both have a vote in the Budget Committee — a vital procedural step scheduled for 2:30 p.m. today.
  • If Johnson votes against this, there's no hiding! Everyone will pile up on him. And there's no telling what Trump will do.
  • A problem for McConnell & Co: Johnson and Corker sit on opposite ends of a Catch 22 seesaw: Johnson wants lots more money for "pass-through" businesses. But every extra dollar you give him is another dollar that will blow out the deficit and worry deficit hawks like Corker, Flake and McCain.
  • A senior GOP aide: "It's unclear what exactly that Senator Johnson wants. ... It's potentially hundreds of billions of dollars."

Be smart: House leaders are insisting on a conference committee to work out the vast differences between the two chambers' tax bills: They say they don't have the votes for the Senate bill, and won't swallow it whole.That's a whole new minefield.

How It's Playing ... N.Y. Times lead story: "TAX WRANGLING AIMS TO SWEETEN GAINS OF WEALTHY."

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Go deeper

Updated 3 mins ago - World

Over 70 dead in worst bombardments between Israel and Hamas for years

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli fighter jets conducted airstrikes in Gaza on May 13, 2021. Israeli forces said on May 12 they had killed a senior Hamas commander and bombed several buildings. Gaza's health ministry has said children are among the dead. Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

At least 67 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed in fighting between Israel's military and Hamas since Monday, per Reuters.

The big picture: The worst aerial exchanges of fire between Israel and Hamas since 2014 come days after escalating violence in Jerusalem that injured hundreds of Palestinians and several Israeli police officers during protests over the planned evictions of Palestinian families from their homes.

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The COVID-19 pandemic was a "preventable disaster" that exposed weak links "at every point" of the preparedness process, according to a World Health Organization-commissioned report published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response criticized governments worldwide for being unprepared for the pandemic despite the prevalence of past "global health threats," such as Ebola, Zika, and SARS outbreaks.

Don McGahn agrees to House panel interview on Russia report

Former White House counsel Don McGahn during a discussion at the NYU Global Academic Center in Washington, D.C., in 2019. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former White House counsel Don McGahn agreed Wednesday to speak with the House Judiciary Committee about the Russia investigation that led to the impeachment trial of former President Trump — with certain conditions, per a court filing.

Why it matters: The agreement ends a two-year standoff after McGahn, a key player in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, repeatedly refused to agree to a subpoena for testimony — resulting in the matter being taken to court.