Lame-Duck Congress Back as Fiscal Cliff Looms

Postal Service, Sandy relief may also be on agenda

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 13, 2012 7:23 AM CST

(Newser) – Congress is back in Washington today, bracing for battle over how to avoid the fiscal cliff. Legislators have seven weeks to hit on a deal, with tax cut extensions taking center stage, notes Reuters. But analysts warn that "the longer it takes the president and Congress to negotiate a deal, the higher the odds that the US fiscal situation will unhinge the progress made during the past three years of economic recovery." Here's what else the 112th Congress—history's least productive—could tackle in its lame-duck session, via Mother Jones:

  • Some in the House are calling for more funds for Hurricane Sandy relief.
  • With some $11 billion in debt to the government, the US Postal Service is on the brink—and 8 million jobs hang in the balance. Most likely, Congress will pass legislation to tide it over another year.

  • Lobbyists may push to loosen Dodd-Frank financial reform regulations.
  • It's been more than a year since the Violence Against Women Act expired—and so far, no replacement, despite Senate efforts.
  • Congress could extend the FISA Amendments Act, allowing warrantless listening to "foreign communications."
  • An existing bipartisan bill could crack down on human trafficking among government contractors.
  • Lawmakers will probably renew a wind energy tax credit championed by the president.
  • Health and retirement benefits for federal workers' same-sex partners, sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, could get a boost from Lieberman's planned retirement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. listens to a question during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. listens to a question during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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