While Congress may have tackled the TV commercial loudness situation, it's punting pretty much everything else into the post-election lame duck session, when political pressures will supposedly be muted. The current tally of bills they'll consider? Oh, around 20.
Democratic congressional leaders hope that they'll be able to break the current legislative gridlock on items they've been holding as soon as the election's over, when at least some members will stop being so insane — or will have already lost, and will vote for anything out of both sadness and revenge. Considering that Republicans are likely to take back at least one chamber of Congress, Democrats want to move many items before the clock runs out.
So here's what the six-week November and December agenda could include:
Extending the Bush tax cuts; the defense authorization bill, including a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell;" the DREAM Act, offering paths to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants; extending unemployment benefits; extending the "doc fix," a Medicare reimbursement rate increase that they were never able to find a permanent solution for; some tax cut thing for students and teachers that Sen. Max Baucus has been working on; a renewable electricity standard; a Joe Lieberman-authored cybersecurity bill (scary!); Senate ratification of the New START nukes treaty that Obama signed with Russia earlier this year; a coal-country bill to bar the EPA from regulating carbon emissions for two years; a Chinese currency manipulation bill; Michelle Obama's child nutrition bill (which failed in the House today, for now); a No Children Left Behind revision/extension that's been lingering for some time, and some other end-of-the-year spending bills.
Probably some other things, too. For example: Few candidates seem to be talking about the recommendations from Obama's Debt Commission that are due December 1. It's expected to include recommendations for cuts to social security, and the House has already promised an up-or-down vote on these. Funny that you don't hear Democrats talking about the likely upcoming social security cuts during election season, isn't it? But remember, Republicans are scary!
Make your predictions! Even though some of these bills are necessary for the continuation of government, we say -1 of them will get passed.