Congress is back in session, for what it’s worth.
And it’s not worth much.
About all that anyone expects to see happen is the passage of a six-month spending plan to prevent the federal government, or at least parts of it, from shutting down between now and election day. And lawmakers may come up with some disaster relief legislation for U.S. farmers who have endured disastrous conditions this growing season.
Otherwise, taxpayers will be paying these legislators to try to come up with some political jockeying that’ll embarrass the opposing party as much as possible heading into the big stakes Nov. 6 elections.
Rather than wrestle with sequestration — bipartisanly viewed as congressionally-created a fiscal category 5 hurricane that is due to make landfall Jan. 2 — and passing a farm bill, also a critical piece of legislation for our part of the nation, Democrats will use their majority in the Senate and the Republican majority in the House likely will focus on ways to bring certain topics to voters’ minds as they struggle with a mind-numbingly negative campaign battle between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Democrats in the Senate are looking at a procedural vote that would require GOP lawmakers to again endorse Republican vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan and House Republicans would like to leave Friday with the fresh taste of failures like Solyndra, which Obama sank federal funds into and touted as the poster child for energy innovation before it went belly up, in people’s minds.
Whether either chamber returns for a few days next week largely depends on whether party leadership thinks they can squeeze out a few more political salvos.
But after the election, it’s going to be a busy Legislature — or at least it should be. Sequestration will have to be avoided, a farm bill will have to be passed and the tax hikes all Americans face in 2013 will have to be addressed, along with Pentagon spending needs, cuts in Medicare funding to physicians, a free trade pact with Russia and the the U.S. Postal Service, which should be printing all its stamps in a color of ink that would be appropriately designated Government Red.
With the Christmas/New Year’s holidays bearing down, the lameduck Congress will likely be in a rush. And we’ve seen how Congress can maul legislation when it’s in a hurry. Don’t expect it to be pretty.