Washington Update - September 10, 2012
Vianovo | Sep 10, 2012
Gallup polling shows Democrats won an improvement from their convention that adjourned Thursday as the Republican convention produced flat results. It may take another week to determine whether President Barack Obama gained a lasting advantage or if the presidential race will remain tied until some intervening event, such as the October debates. In either case, President Obama is the favorite because he requires fewer swing state Electoral College votes to win. The Senate majority remains a toss-up while Republicans are certain to maintain their House dominance.
Congress returns to session Tuesday for 13 voting days to dispose of a few must-pass bills before departing for the fall campaign, leaving the bulk of work for a 16-day Lame Duck session.
Topping the agenda is a compromise to keep government operating for the first six months of fiscal 2013, beginning October 1. The agreement would maintain spending at current levels, disappointing Tea Party Republican advocates of spending cuts. Other legislative items include drought relief, cybersecurity and tax extenders. When the CR is enacted, it will difficult for leaders to keep rank-and-file members in town, potentially postponing final action on lesser items until the Lame Duck session. The most important Lame Duck decision will be whether to avoid the fiscal cliff, spending cuts and tax increases that automatically take effect in early January and could foment a recession.
One election scenario, maintaining the current majorities in Congress and President Obama's reelection, makes a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff possible. Should Republicans win the White House or a Senate majority, they would be disinclined to cut deals with Democrats until they take power in the New Year – after the spending cuts and tax increases take effect.
Meanwhile, House Republicans will posture on the floor to support Republican nominee Mitt Romney's program. Senate Democrats will posture in support of President Obama.