Congress on big issues: It’s ... Drop Back and Punt
September 13, 2012 12:00 AM | 946 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After being here only two days in August, according to House Republican leader Eric Cantor’s schedule, the House returned this week to a huge, and hugely important, workload. So did the Senate, following a similarly brief stint in August.

But the betting in the capital is that lawmakers will push most of that workload over into a post-election lame-duck session and hope something good happens.

In the category of must-pass legislation is a temporary spending measure to pay for the government’s operations at current funding levels for another six months past the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.

Otherwise, the government shuts down and this tends to reflect very badly on incumbents, especially with the elections just less than two months away. The fact that Congress has to do this at all should reflect very badly on them because it means that not only did they not get their constitutionally mandated work done on time; they didn’t get it done at all.

Also on the to-do list are a five-year extension of the farm bill, which also expires at the end of the month; an annual defense-authorization bill approving the Pentagon’s defense-policy plans for the year; a bailout for the Postal Service; and averting a 30 percent cut in physician reimbursements under Medicare.

Even so, the House will find time to vote on a “No More Solyndras Act,” named after an green-energy company that went bankrupt despite an administration-backed government loan of $528 million. The Democratic Senate will not take up the bill.

Similarly, the Senate may bring GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s budget plan to a vote, knowing full well the House will not take it up but hoping to embarrass the Republicans all the same.

Meanwhile, ticking away in the corner is the question of whether to renew, and if so, how much, the George W. Bush tax cuts that expire Dec. 31. And then there’s the first installment, about $109 billion, of the $1.2 trillion across-the-board budget cuts that take effect in January unless Congress agrees on a deficit-reduction formula.

Congress has mapped out the rest of this week, maybe three days next week and maybe, or maybe not, five days in October to deal with it. Not what you would call a killer schedule, but then there are those elections to worry about.
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