Congress reconvened this week for the first time since adjourning for the mid-term elections. Their first order of business was to elect their leaders for the 112th Congress. No surprises here, folks. Both Republicans and Democrats re-elected those Members currently in the top spots, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will hand over the gavel to Minority leader John Boehner in January.
The real lame duck legislative fights probably won’t occur until after Thanksgiving, but Congressional Republicans did vote on something very significant this week: a 2-year earmark moratorium. I recently wrote about contention within the Senate Republican Conference but, fortunately, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell signaled his support for the DeMint earmark resolution on Monday, thereby paving the way for easy passage. Today, House Republicans unanimously adopted a similar resolution. While we commend Republicans for taking a stand against the pork-laden politics that burden our legislative process, the fight is far from over. Democrats have yet to take a collective vote, so it’s critical that we continue to put pressure on lawmakers.
Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) are planning to introduce an earmark moratorium amendment that will put all Senators on the record. At this point, we’re not quite sure when (or if!) they will get a vote on their amendment, but rest assured that we will stay on top of the issue and keep all of you in the loop as things move forward.
Other items to expect when Congress comes back from Thanksgiving recess include fiscal 2011 appropriations, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, tax extenders, unemployment insurance, DOD authorization, and possibly Medicare physician payments.
Also, be sure to check out our website feature, Talking Taxes! As you may recall, we launched this page in September to provide you with information on all the latest action in both chambers of Congress and how we’re fighting to protect your taxpayer dollars. We hope that it will serve as a great resource for you as you seek to stay informed throughout the lame duck session.