Lame-duck: It’s what’s for dinner

Posted on September 29, 2010

Senator John Kerry

Image by cliff1066™ via Flickr


Anxious to get home and hit the campaign trails full-time, Congress has very little on its plate now.  Members of the House and Senate are only looking to pass initiatives this week which will keep the government open and running until Dec. 3.   At which time, they can come back and wrap up the 111th session before hopefully being sent packing. But while the Congress has very little to address at this moment,   The Hill reports that the real meat that matters is being held off only to be served up during the lame-duck session:   

Democrats are considering cramming as many as 20 pieces of legislation into the lame-duck session they plan to hold after the Nov. 2 election.   

The highest-profile item for November and December is the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, passed under President George W. Bush, which expire at year’s end.   

Democrats have promised they will not allow tax rates to rise for families making less than $250,000 a year.   

Democratic leaders have also prioritized the defense authorization bill, which includes a repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans gays from serving openly in the military.   

Besides the Bush tax cuts and the defense authorization bill here’s the foreseen wish list Democrats are hoping to address and, if applicable, the congressperson who is pushing the measure:   

  • The DREAM act which gives illegal immigrants who were brought here as children an opportunity to gain citizenship  (Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois)
  • A further extension of unemployment benefits and a measure to stop the impending cuts in Medicare payments to doctors
  • Targeted tax cuts for families paying college tuition, teachers buying supplies out of their own pocket, and some employers (Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana)
  • Passage of a renewable energy standard (Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico)
  • Cybersecurity Act (Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.)
  • Ratification of a new START treaty with Russia (Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.)
  • Legislation that would bar the EPA for 2 years from taking action on trying to curb carbon gas emissions (Sen. Jay Rockefeller,D-W.Va.)
  • A bill to address Chinese currency manipulation (Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York)
  • Food safety legislation (Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa)
  • Child nutrition legislation (Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California)
  • Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Rep. George Miller, D-California)

That’s quite a plateful for the Dems who’ll only have about 6 weeks before being sent home.  You’ll notice that nowhere in their list is a budget…   

The backloading of so many agenda items to the weeks after the elections should be a troubling sign for conservatives. It shows that even if the Democrats take a beating at the polls this November, they still will use the lame-duck session as their last best hope to get whatever liberal legislation passed before the new Congress is sworn in at the end of January.    

Adding extra incentive to pass whatever legislation they can, Democrats know that once January rolls around and a more conservative Congress is seated, it will be harder to get any liberal legislation passed.  But any attempts by the new Congress to repeal already passed legislation is bound to be met with President Obama’s veto pen for the next two years.  Hence, the push to get as much through during the lame-duck session will be at an all time high.  Democrats are not stupid, but they are desperate.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.   

Lame-duck, it’s what’s for dinner.