They are back! The 111th Congress returns to work this week after a five week recess during which the elections were held. It is anticipated that the “lame duck” session will not last more than three weeks. Facing a huge “to do” list, most pending bills on this list will be postponed for action until the new 112th Congress convenes next year. Bills most likely to be dealt with include extending the Continuing Resolution that keeps the federal government operating without the enactment of FY 2012 Appropriations bills, extending the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 which would expire in December 31, extending unemployment insurance coverage and child nutrition legislation. Action on these measures will substantially rest on the tactics of each party as Democrats see the lame duck session as the last chance to pass certain laws while many Republicans are expected to stall all but the most urgent bills since they will constitute the majority in the House and have a larger minority in the Senate in the next Congress.
The House will spend most of this week dealing with internal issues such as leadership elections and forming steering committees for the next Congress. The Senate will vote on a bill promoting energy-efficient vehicles and also hold leadership elections.