D.C. Hotline: Beware of the lame duck

By Jeremy Stine

In the literal sense, a lame duck is a fowl unable to keep up with its flock. So it is quite fitting that we describe congressional activity after the Nov. 2 elections as a "lame duck session."

Because of holidays and scheduling, there will only be about 12 voting days for the current legislators between their Nov. 15 return and the Jan. 3 swearing-in of the new flock. One can argue whether limited activity is a good thing or not. But that's still enough time for the lame duck Congress to do too much -- or too little.

On Jan. 1, Americans will experience the largest tax increase in the history of our nation if the Bush tax cuts and the estate tax are left to expire. It is unlikely there will be consensus on any extension. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), who as Majority Leader controls the Senate's agenda, has instead blocked out the first week of business to be devoted to a pay equity measure. If passed, this measure would force business owners to prove that they don't discriminate based on gender and would make it easier for trial attorneys to file class action lawsuits based on perceived gender discrimination.

Before those issues come to a head, here is one observer's official prediction for the Nov. 2 election outcome: Republicans will win the House with 245 seats (It takes 218 for a majority) to 190 seats for the Democrats. The Senate will be split 50-50, with Vice President Joe Biden, the President of the Senate, giving Democrats the majority and the tie-breaking vote.

Jeremy Stine is manager of government and public affairs for the NLBMDA.

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