After a five-week recess, including two weeks of political conventions, lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill last week with just a few days to address some outstanding issues. But with the general election cycle officially underway, it's clear some major pieces of legislation will have to wait until after November 6. Washington bureau reporter Erin Billups filed the following report for NY1.
Lawmakers returned from summer recess last week with just eight session days to plow through major bills.
"If sequestration goes into effect, America will compromise a legacy of superiority," California Representative Ken Calvert said.
Both houses addressed legislation with clear political messages.
Last week, the Republican-led House passed a bill that highlights what they call the President's failure to outline a plan to deal with the looming $109 billion in automatic cuts to defense and domestic spending, also known as the sequester.
"It's a charade this bill they have on the floor today. It just keeps making matters worse as the clock keeps ticking," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.
In the Senate last week, Republicans blocked passage of the President's Veterans Jobs Bill but Democratic leadership will continue pushing the measure this week. While threat of a government shutdown was averted, as the Senate plans to pass the House bill that keeps government running this week, there are still major pieces of legislation that will fall victim to the highly political season, like the Farm Bill.
"At the moment, the leadership believes we don't have the votes to pass the bill. I respectfully disagree," Rep. Chris Gibson said.
Rep. Gibson is one of 40 members from both sides of the aisle who's signed a letter to House leadership requesting once again that the long-term Farm Bill be brought to the floor for a vote before it expires on the 30th.
"It is a big deal," Gibson said. "It's important to our farmers. It's our duty to do this. We had a strong bipartisan vote in committee, 35 to 11."
Still, House Republican leadership will likely bring a one-year extension of the Farm Bill to the floor, pushing instead for a livestock disaster aid bill.
"The livestock drought issue is something we do have in common," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said.
"What is holding them back? Maybe it is an assumption that they need to wait until after an election and that, that in fact becomes their political motivation and it comes to a cost to farmers all across the country," Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro said.
While the current Farm Bill expires at the end of the month, funding for most programs doesn't actually dry up until late 2013.