Messy Holidays for Congress 

Posted: 11:09 pm Sunday, December 11th, 2011

By Jamie Dupree

Once again, the U.S. Congress is heading for a messy end to the year, as lawmakers struggle to find a deal to extend a payroll tax cut and much more before a scheduled Christmas break.

Let’s go over the list of unfinished legislation:

  • Payroll tax cut extension
  • Long term jobless benefits extension
  • Alternative Minimum Tax patch
  • Another extension of the Medicare “Doc Fix”
  • Eight budget bills for the current fiscal year
  • Extension of series of business and personal tax breaks known as the “tax extenders”
  • Major defense policy bill
  • A new temporary budget will be needed by Friday night if work isn’t finished on those eight budget bills

    And there’s much more that could well get stuffed through in the next two weeks.

    This evening, Republicans will set in motion the parliamentary work needed to set up a vote as early as Tuesday on a GOP bill that extends the payroll tax cut for a year, but also contains a bunch of other items, like approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

    House Speaker John Boehner has told colleagues that if all this work isn’t finished by the end of this week, then things could get “very, very messy” in that last week before Christmas.

    Unfortunately, that’s just sort of standard operating procedure for both parties in recent years; a year ago this week it was Democrats unveiling an Omnibus budget bill in the Senate, one that was stuffed with bipartisan pork (that story at http://is.gd/DrskxE to refresh your memory.)

    The last two years, the Congress has been in session on Christmas Eve, finishing work for the year.

    At this rate, votes on Friday December 23 don’t seem far fetched.