Congress Returns For Lame Duck Session And To Face the Fiscal Cliff
Lame Duck Session Begins: The Senate and The House are scheduled to reconvene for legislative business at 2 PM today.
The Senate will resume post-cloture consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 3525, a bill to increase access to federal lands for hunting and fishing. At 5:30 PM, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the motion to proceed to S. 3525. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to submit a substitute amendment to the bill containing technical corrections and attempt to wrap up consideration of the bill this week.
The House will hold elections for House Republican leadership positions for the next two years tomorrow. The Republican Study Committee (RSC) will also hold an election to appoint the Chairman for the next two years on Thursday.
And speaking of the RSC, today, the ARRA News Service secured a copy of a letter sent on Nov. 2nd by the outgoing RSC Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) to Ambassador Susan Rice and the U.N. Security Council. The letter expressed concerns about 90 Palestinian rockets being fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip since Oct 22nd towards Israel with 76 landing in Israel and doing damage to property, injuring Israelis and disrupting their lives have been fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip. The U.N. Security Council has chosen to remain silent, rather than condemn these attacks in the strongest terms possible.
We also note that both the Lame street press as well as the representatives of the Obama administration also remained silent on these rocket attacks while President Obama was also solicited votes for re-election.
Today, the House is scheduled to take up today:
HR 6190 — Asthma Inhalers Relief Act of 2012
HR 6371 —Streamlining Claims Processing for Federal Contractor Employees Act
HR 6586 — A bill to extend the application of certain space launch liability provisions through 2014.
S 1956 — European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011
HR 2453 — Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act
HR 2606 — New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act
HR 6570 — A bill to amend the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 to consolidate certain CBO reporting requirements.
HR 5934 — Stop Tobacco Smuggling in the Territories Act of 2012
HR 6116 — A bill to amend the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands to provide for direct appeals to the United States Supreme Court of decisions of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court.
HR 6156 — Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012. This legislation is to extend permanent normal trade relations status to Russia.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce notes, that a revitalized President Barack Obama is already clashing with a still-solid GOP House majority in a lame-duck session that looks to be configured for the same gridlock that has tied up Washington, D.C., for the past two years. Among the lame duck possibilities, Roll Call explains, "Prominent business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are pushing Congress to act on legislation establishing permanent normal trade relations with Russia. The bill is backed by the Obama administration and breezed through the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means panels, but Congressional leaders have struggled to set up a procedural path to passage."
On Friday: Continuance on HR 6156 — Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012
Senator McConnell: "We Won’t Agree To Any Tax Increases That Will Hurt The Economy":
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore at the end of last week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated that in order to get an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, there needs to be some leadership from President Obama. “The missing person, the guy who was AWOL in 2011, is still the president. I think a good starting place in trying to figure out how to go forward is for the president to have an epiphany.” He noted that at the conclusion of negotiations to extend all current tax rates in 2010, “When the president said, ‘I’m for it,’ 40 Senate Democrats voted to extend the Bush tax cuts, which leads me to my point: Without the president, we can’t fix this problem.’”
But it seems that liberal groups and some Senate Democrats are already drawing lines in the sand demanding tax increases in a struggling economy and refusing to do anything about the country’s looming entitlement crisis. The Washington Post reports, “With President Obama seeking a deal to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff,’ liberal groups that campaigned aggressively for his reelection are mobilizing to oppose concessions they fear he could make on Medicare and Social Security. Leaders of the nation’s labor unions and other liberal groups are planning Tuesday to press Obama at the White House to reject the kind of cuts in Medicare and Social Security that he has previously offered to make. On Thursday, left-leaning lawmakers and seniors groups plan to rally on Capitol Hill against any changes to entitlements. . . . Democratic lawmakers have made clear they will oppose any changes to Social Security. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that he is open to a fiscal-cliff deal but that ‘we are not going to mess with Social Security.’”
But Leader McConnell told the WSJ entitlement reform is critical to getting an handle on the looming fiscal crisis: “‘The speaker and I spent an endless amount of time in the first half of 2011 trying to get the president to do what we all know has to be done if we’re going to save the country,’ Mr. McConnell says. ‘Until we adjust the entitlement programs to fit the demographics of today’s America, you can’t fix the problem. You can’t tax your way out of it. You can’t cut health-care providers as a way out of it. But Democrats laughed at those ideas even when we offered a quarter-trillion of higher revenues largely taken from high-income people.’”
The Journal notes, “A newly emboldened President Obama is likely to take his soak-the-rich case straight to the people, I remind the senator. The political pressure to capitulate could become intense. ‘Look, he may think it would be helpful to his presidency to continue to divide and demonize us,’ says Mr. McConnell. ‘But my answer will still be short and firm: No. We won’t agree to any tax increases that will hurt the economy.’”
“But,” the WSJ asked, “don’t Messrs. Obama and Reid think they’ve just been given a mandate to raise those tax rates? ‘Yes, well, we Republicans in the House and Senate think we have a voter mandate not to raise taxes,’” Leader McConnell said. “And what if the president insists on raising tax rates? Expect a principled stand by the minority leader and his fellow Republicans: ‘He’s got to understand he doesn’t fully control the Senate. He doesn’t control the House at all. In order to accomplish things for the country he will need to work with us.
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