Our view: Big issues to get punt in Congress
September 13, 2012 1:52PM
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Updated: October 15, 2012 9:17AM
After being in Washington, D.C., only two days in August, according to House Republican leader Eric Cantor’s schedule, the House returned this week to a huge, and hugely important, workload.
So did the Senate, following a similarly brief stint in August.
But the betting in the capital is that lawmakers will push most of that workload over into a post-election lame-duck session and hope something good happens.
In the category of must-pass legislation is a temporary spending measure to pay for the government’s operations at current funding levels for another six months past the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
Otherwise, the government shuts down, and this tends to reflect very badly on incumbents, especially with the elections less than two months away.
The fact that Congress has to do this at all should reflect very badly on them because it means that not only did they not get their constitutionally mandated work done on time; they didn’t get it done at all.
Also on the to-do list are a five-year extension of the farm bill, which also expires at the end of the month; an annual defense-authorization bill approving the Pentagon’s defense-policy plans for the year, a bailout for the Postal Service, and averting a 30 percent cut in physician reimbursements under Medicare.
Meanwhile, ticking away in the corner is the question of whether to renew, and, if so, how much, the George W. Bush tax cuts that expire Dec. 31.
Then, there’s the first installment, about $109 billion, of the $1.2 trillion across-the-board budget cuts that take effect in January, unless Congress agrees on a deficit-reduction formula.
Congress has mapped out a few days this week, maybe three days next week and maybe, or maybe not, five days in October to deal with it. Not what you would call a killer schedule, but then, there are those elections to worry about.
Scripps Howard News Service