Fiscal Cliff, Farm Bill, Postal Bill On List For Lame-Duck Congress
The 112th Congress has been widely criticized for its unproductiveness, but session is not over yet and there's still a lot of work to get done. Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Erin Billups filed the following report.
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Much of the focus during the "Lame Duck" session on Capitol Hill, the few weeks after an election before the New Year, will be on tackling a series of sharp tax hikes and deep spending cuts.
"If we don't act between now and the end of the year, we will see the single largest tax increase in American history," said Texas Senator John Cornyn.
But there is other unfinished business the 112th Congress will try and address before a new mix of lawmakers take over in January.
"We have the Farm Bill, the Postal Bill and many other things that we need to go to conference on," said Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader.
The U.S. Postal Service is currently operating in the red and needs Congress to act on cost-saving measures like cutting Saturday mail delivery, so the struggling agency can, in part, pay for its retiree health care fund.
Some lawmakers are also looking to include the Farm Bill into the deficit reduction package that would forestall a plummet off the fiscal cliff. The bill would cut around $35 billion in spending over 10 years.
There are other bills lawmakers hope to squeeze into what will likely become a year-end Omni-bus.
"I would like to see us, for instance, as part of dealing with the fiscal cliff, have some real programs for infrastructure. Putting people to work by the traditional way we've done since the new deal and that is building and improving roads, water, sewer, basic infrastructure makes a great deal of sense," New York Senator Charles Schumer said.
Lawmakers had also hoped to pass a cyber security bill this lame duck session, but it failed to get the needed votes in the Senate.
After the Thanksgiving holiday, the upper house hopes to shift its focus to the Defense Authorization Act, which would fund the department of defense budget.
"The fact is there are a lot of issues on the table that need to be resolved by the end of the year," House Speaker John Boehner said.