Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sizing Up A Legendary Lame Session

It's typically understood that a lame duck session doesn't result in significant or notable outcomes. Legislators typically attempt to wind down the session with bills that are still pending.

Usually, significant legislation doesn't pass.

In fact, the 20th Amendment was supposed to eliminate lame duck sessions, but that Amendment hasn't worked out as its backers had envisioned.

The usual outcomes don't apply to the ongoing Congressional lame duck session. In fact, this is shaping up to be a legendary and historic lame duck session because of the issues being tackled.

The era of don't ask, don't tell is about to end as legislation repealing 10 USC 654, the statute that prohibits gays and lebsians serving in the military, awaits President Obama's signature. After the November election, this was not an outcome one would have expected and it is to the credit of its backers that they persevered to get it done.

Congress passed a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, which again wasn't a done deal.

The Zadroga 9/11 compensation package for the Ground Zero workers is still pending, and its backers are hopeful for its passage. The START treaty is also pending, and it is possible that the treaty will not go before the session and instead it will be taken up in the new Congress. The same can't be said for the DREAM act. That bill is not going to pass.

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