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This assumes every thumper—even if other issues are taken up, the fiscal cliff will dominate discussions

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This assumes every thumper—even if other issues are taken up, the fiscal cliff will dominate discussions

Greenberg Taurig, LLP(Contributors to the National Law Review) November 8, 2012 “Election 2012: Overview of Presidential and Congressional Results” Lexis
With the elections over, members of Congress will return to Washington on November 13 for what could be a lame-duck session of Congress lasting roughly six weeks. It is expected that during this time legislators will turn to the nation’s fiscal issues, the most immediate of which are budget sequestration and expiring tax provisions, including the payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits, and the 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts. The United States will also hit its $16.4 trillion debt ceiling in the spring. Members of Congress will have to negotiate to raise the limit before then or risk defaulting on the nation’s debt. Given that the more immediate issues comprising the “fiscal cliff” are expected to dominate the lame-duck session, it is unlikely that legislators will tackle the debt-ceiling issue during this short time frame. It is more likely that members of Congress will negotiate the debt-ceiling issue in late February or early March, as the U.S. actually nears the deadline. Finally, since the continuing resolution that passed in September funds the government until March 2013, members of Congress will need to either extend or replace this measure at that time. Taken together, these issues make it clear that the country’s finances will dominate the legislative agenda both during the lame-duck and after the Administration and members Congress take office in 2013. Other issues that members of Congress may take up in the lame-duck session include:

Cybersecurity legislation

Data breach

Defense authorization

Electronic Communications and Privacy Act

European Union airline emissions

Farm bill reauthorization

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reauthorization

Creation of a national infrastructure bank

Internet gambling

Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate

Miscellaneous Tariff Bill

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief extension

Online sales tax

Permanent normalized trade relations with Russia

SAFER and FIRE grants

Water Resources Development Act

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, legislators are also considering a $12 billion supplemental appropriations bill to fund cleanup and recovery efforts. H.R. 6581, introduced by Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) on November 2, would direct funds to the Army Corps of Engineers Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Account, Small Business Administration disaster loans, FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, and FEMA disaster assistance loans. Legislators may attach an omnibus spending bill or fiscal cliff legislation to this supplemental appropriations bill. Since the appropriations bill is not offset elsewhere in the budget, it will likely face opposition from deficit-hawks in Congress, particularly in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

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