Low Expectations for Congress’s Lame-Duck Session
Posted on October 16, 2014
(This originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank)
There are two schools of thought about the coming lame-duck session.
The Optimist School believes that Congress will work on a whole slew of must-pass legislation, including an omnibus appropriations bill, a host of tax extenders, terrorism risk insurance, perhaps some trade bills, and other cats and dogs.
The optimists are all about scoring last-minute touchdowns.
The Pessimist School believes that nothing will get done during the lame duck, with the possible exception of a continuing resolution that has some agreed-upon updated spending bills attached to it.
The pessimists are all about punting. Over and over again.
The optimists think that the new Republican Senate majority would want to get several things off the docket so it can start fresh in the president’s final two years in office.
The pessimists think that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would burn up most of the time in the lame duck pushing through nominations and judicial appointments, including the replacement for Attorney General Eric Holder.
My heart aligns me with the optimists, because I want to see Congress actually do its job. My head, however, has learned to be realistic about the dysfunction that now rules the United States Senate.
President Barack Obama should want Congress to get the mundane stuff finished so that he can focus on his legacy in his final years in office. But he is so ineffectual, beleaguered, and disengaged that his opinions are unlikely to matter much.
With so much in the world going to pieces these days, it’s hard to be optimistic about anything–especially the coming lame duck.