Curbing a Lame-Duck Congress

Members of Congress are expected to return for one week later this month in a lame-duck session - so named because some members will have lost their seats in yesterday's election, making passage of legislation that much more difficult on Capitol Hill.

All the more reason for the newly elected 109th Congress to work harder to get vital business done before it recesses, and not let important legislation pile up.

Historically, Congress has been sparing in its use of lame-duck sessions - until recently. This month's gathering will be the fourth such post-election session in a row. Congress ought to take a closer look at the wisdom of trying to accomplish so much in such hasty gatherings (not to mention how they curtail needed public debate on serious subjects).

It strains the imagination to think that meaningful progress can be made on such weighty items as reforming the nation's intelligence apparatus, and passing an energy package that's been tied up for three years, all the while needing to pass nine spending bills that busted the fiscal year deadline of Oct. 1.

A highly charged partisan atmosphere is blamed for many of the standoffs and yet, strangely, members rushed through a $137 billion corporate tax relief bill, full of favors to campaign contributors.

Spending bills aside, surely Congress can wait until the next session in January, when newly elected members can consider important bills, rather than see a frenzied rush to judgment simply for the sake of playing "catch-up" on bills they deliberately chose to ignore or obstruct.

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