For Successful ‘Lame-Duck’, Dems Must Unite

by Ashley Carter
Columnist

This week, Congress is scheduled to head into what will possibly be its most important session this year. The next four weeks, known as the “lame-duck” session, are the last few weeks for Congress to pass legislation before the newly elected Senators and Representatives take office. With so many controversial issues on the table, we are sure to see some interesting decisions passed.

The most pressing issue facing the lame-duck Congress is whether or not to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, which currently expire at the end of the year. Many believe that these tax cuts have given unfair advantages to the wealthy and have not given enough benefits to the middle-class citizens who need them the most. Congress has the option to permanently extend these tax cuts, including the cuts for the wealthy, which could cost the country an estimated $5 trillion. The current Congress aims to extend tax cuts only to the middle class, a position supported by President Barack Obama.

Another hot-button issue facing the Congress is the option to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation passed under President Bill Clinton. Recently, the Supreme Court repealed a ruling by a lower court that found the law unconstitutional. This leaves the bill in limbo and gives Congress the chance to make a decision regarding the controversial law. As if the issue were not hot enough already, last week’s leak from the Pentagon certainly added fuel to the flames. According to an anonymous source, a recent Pentagon report concluded that there would be little to no risk in repealing the law. Clearly, Congress cannot ignore the issue for much longer, and the current Congress would consider it a victory to repeal the legislation this year.

Can the current Congress succeed in pushing through its favored legislation? The answer is unclear. Republicans in Congress have made it known that they will attempt to prevent Democrat-backed legislation if possible, and the Democrats do not always agree on everything. Democrats in Congress must all be in agreement on the legislation they wish to pass if they plan to achieve anything during the lame-duck session. If they cannot agree, there is no next session — in January, the new Congress takes over for the next two years.

So what can we expect to see in the next four weeks? I predict that we will see a strong showing from Democrats, hoping to pass their favored legislation. However, the Republican Party, fresh off a victorious election season, will be only too happy to block passage if the Democratic majority cannot agree. Democrats will have to band together immediately and stay strong over the next four weeks if they hope to have a successful lame-duck session.

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