By Seth McLaughlin-The Washington Times
Coming off an election in which voters unleashed their fury over Washington’s perceived inability to grapple with tough issues, lawmakers spent much of the first week of the lame-duck session going after low-hanging fruit while leaving a number of big-ticket items on the table.
As a result, when they return from their Thanksgiving break on Nov. 29, they’ll have four weeks before Christmas to tackle a slew of spending and tax-related issues that have divided party leaders on Capitol Hill for months.
Atop the to-do list is how to fund the federal government through the end of the year. Lawmakers passed a stopgap bill before the election that will keep the government from shutting down through Dec. 3.
It is unclear whether Senate Democrats will offer a continuing resolution to keep government running at currently funded levels or aim to pass an omnibus bill, which would roll a dozen appropriations bills into one.
Republicans oppose the latter, saying Democrats want to jam through spending proposals and avoid the proper congressional review and scrutiny.
“If this election showed us anything, it’s that Americans don’t want Congress passing massive trillion-dollar bills that have been thrown together behind closed doors,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said last week from the Senate floor.
Despite the GOP opposition, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is said to be cautiously optimistic about Democrats’ chances of shepherding through an omnibus bill. Corralling the 60 votes that likely will be needed to pass an ominbus bill could prove more difficult now that all but a handful of Republicans have sworn off earmarks that likely would be included in such a spending proposal.
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