Washington Update - September 17, 2012
Vianovo | Sep 17, 2012
President Barack Obama's post-convention job approval improvement held the 49-50 percent range as he established a 3-4 point lead over his rival Mitt Romney. Romney accused the President of sympathizing with violent Muslim radicals in Syria who killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other consular personnel. President Obama accused Romney of shooting before he aimed on international matters. The Obama campaign sees Romney losing credibility; the Romney campaign sees events shaking up the race to Romney’s advantage.
The dynamic makes the President a tenuous favorite for reelection, putting the onus on Romney to change the campaign’s trajectory – suggesting more risky attacks similar to the accusation of sympathy for Muslim murderers.
Congress is intent on departing town this week. Last week, the House approved a six-month stopgap-spending bill. When the Senate clears the measure for President Obama's signature this week, Congress plans to adjourn until after the November election.
The continuing resolution would fund government through March 27, 2013 at current levels as agreed in last year's debt limit bill. Senators will vote this week on a veteran's employment measure and Representatives will take up bills protesting the "war on coal." Last week, Representatives voted again to protest sequestration defense spending cuts. The White House released a report deriding sequestration cuts to defense and domestic spending while demanding Congress act to avoid them.
Congress' departure would leave a stack of unfinished business for the 16-day Lame Duck session. Atop the agenda will be sequestration, expiring tax rates and other tax provisions, the defense authorization and farm bill. Conventional wisdom predicts temporary extensions of most items until a new Congress convenes in January, but angry partisans may prevent any action even on temporary bills – sending the government over the fiscal cliff and forcing the next Congress to clean up the mess.