The House voted down a resolution opposing a lame-duck session to tackle hot button issues such as new taxes and climate change.
By John Fund
It's official. There will be a lame duck session of Congress even after voters have rendered their verdict on the work of the current incumbents in November.
This week, the House voted down a resolution opposing a lame-duck session to tackle hot button issues such as new taxes and climate change. Even though six Democrats joined Republicans in voting against considering such legislation before the new Congress is seated, Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced the Senate will nonetheless return on November 15, then take a Thanksgiving break, then come back for more business on November 29, with no specified target date for adjournment.
Mr. Reid is on record as saying he hopes to move a Senate bill restricting carbon emissions. Carol Browner, President Obama's top adviser on the environment, has also said a lame duck was "potentially" a good time to address climate change. Some Senators, including a few key Republicans, are also hoping Congress will implement controversial elements of the recommendations of a presidential deficit reduction commission. Those recommendations are due to be delivered on December 1, and could include major tax hikes. [Ambush-JS] Kent Conrad, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, says he's anticipating "one of the most significant lame-duck sessions in the history of the United States."
This kind of subterfuge should be beneath even Congress. A lame duck session, if necessary, should be limited to must-pass legislation that extends current spending levels and tax policies, but doesn't break new ground.
Elections are the way the legislative branch establishes its legitimacy. For members of Congress -- many of whom will have just been defeated or are retiring -- to reassemble after an election to consider weighty issues is a perversion of the democratic process. But that is precisely what savvy Capitol Hill aides suspect is going to happen after November.