Tag Archive: lame duck session

The leaders of the 111th session of Congress are working at a feverish pace to complete unfinished business and bills. Many of the lawmakers are well aware that they will not be back, so they are leaving their legacy: be it bad or good. The Democrats have from the beginning had an agenda and a strategy, and time is running out.

Senator Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Majority leader

Senator Harry Reid has threatened the Republicans that he is willing to work until December 30, and get the work completed. Many Republicans and Democrats know that is not realistic, but Reid knows that the tables will be switched in 2011. With the Republicans with more power in the Senate and a majority in the House, Reid wants major bills passed now and not later.

Reid wants to complete an approval of ratification of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, legislation to repeal the military’s “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy, a “package of land, water, and wildlife” bill, the passage of the Dream Act, as well as the confirmation of several presidential nominees. It is obvious that Reid will not get all this done in the next 10 days.

Usually the main reason that the lame duck sessions are so important is to complete its work on the spending or appropriation bills that form the basis of the annual federal budget. President Obama was personally involved in this lame duck session, because if the Bush tax cuts deal was not finalized, all Americans taxes would have increased by at least $2,500.

2010 bill signing ceremony

President Obama at a bill signing ceremony

The Senate passed the Bush tax cuts on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 by a vote of 81-19, and the House approved the measure by a vote of 277-148 on Thursday, December 16, 2010. Without the president getting involved the tax cut bill, it would not have passed so rapidly.

President Obama and congressional Democrats agreed to compromise in their opposition to extending the lower tax rates to the wealthy Americans, and also agreed to a lower estate tax than had been scheduled to take effect. In return, Republicans agreed to extend unemployment benefits with payroll tax cuts and other tax breaks, which conservatives generally opposed as government stimulus measures.

Many political experts believe that this is an indicator of how President Obama will operate with a split Congress, during 112th session. Instead of change, President Obama is talking about compromise, and he is ready to make deals to initiate a bi-partisan conversation and a sharing of power.

At President Obama’s 29th bill signing ceremony for the Bush tax cut legislature, there were representatives from both parties at the event. At the signing ceremony President Obama said, “The final product proves when we can put aside the partisanship and political gains, we can get a lot done. If we can keep doing it, if we can keep that spirit, I’m hopeful that we won’t just reinvigorate this economy and restore the American dream, I’m also hopeful that we might refresh the American people’s faith in the capability of their leaders to govern in challenging times.”

Obama with Dems at bill signing ceremony

Obama signs at another 2010 bill signing ceremony

The president has acknowledged that he was not completely satisfied with the tax cut deal, but his goal was to get the work done before the deadline. It is obvious that the “to do list” for the 111th Congress will not be completed this year.
With 29 bill signing ceremonies completed, there was unprecedented work done, and the implementation of the groundbreaking legislatures will take years. But now there is a different Congressional session getting ready to start, with different representatives, and with a different set of priorities.

The work of the 111th Congress will never be completed, because one session carries to the next session and it takes months and years to get new bills operating and implemented.

Check out Roger’s other blogs on PRESIDENT OBAMA WATCH at http://www.presidentobamawatch.wordpress.com

112th Congress

The 2011 Congress stands at D.C.


As the 111th Congress and Senate finishes its session before it recesses for the holiday season, the Republicans are drawing a line in the sand. They have developed a strategy and agenda that is based on the philosophy of cutting spending, not raising taxes, and stopping all earmarks.

Everyone in the country is well aware that the 112th Congress and Senate session is the beginning of the conservatives taking back influential leadership positions in many major committees. The Democrats will only have the majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives can stop major bills from being passed, because the two parties are on different sides of the fence.

The Republicans are determined to initiate their vision of a smaller federal bureaucracy while cutting spending, and repealing the new healthcare bill. The 42 Senators in the 111th Congress have been circulating a statement that says, “We are not- we are going to block every piece of legislation that comes our way unless it’s related to tax cuts or government spending.” The gridlock of this week may be a sign of things to come next year.

The Republicans are adamant about expanding all of Bush’s tax cuts and are refusing to give an inch on their position. This week President Obama had a summit at the White House with leaders of the Democrats and the Republicans to create a “spirit of cooperation.” This was the first time since the Democratic beating in the election that there was a bipartisan meeting.

President Obama admits that there are “real philosophical differences” between the two parties and this is why there are Democrats and Republicans. While the summit was going on, the Republican leaders were agreeing to work together, and the other members were passing around a statement to block Democratic legislation.

President Obama and his administration are well aware that this past election is the beginning of a new dialogue with the Republicans. Getting bills passed in the next session of Congress will be very difficult and diplomatic negotiations will be the key. During the 111th Congress, the Democrats had the majority in both houses and it was easy for the Democrats to railroad their agenda through without much resistance from the Republicans.

The Republicans will takeover as John Boehner becomes the Speaker of the House, and the numbers will be 242 Republicans to 192 Democrats. With this major shift in the dynamics of the House of Representatives, the Obama Administration will no longer have the numbers to get their bills passed.

The new Speaker of the House

The Republicans are now in a position to be a spoiler and create gridlock in the legislative process. In order to get anything done in Congress, the two sides will have to compromise and talk to each other.

The tax cuts are slated to conclude at the end of the year, and the Republicans want a two-year extension on all tax cuts. This is a top priority for the Republicans in the Senate, and they are holding firm on their position. This is the beginging of a stalemate in the Senate, and there is a possibility that this gridlock will continue during the 112th Congress.

OMB Budget Director Jack Lew

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

President Obama has appointed Jack Lew, the OMB Budget Director, and Tim Geithner, Treasury Secretary to sit down with members of the House and Senate to find common ground and ensure middle-class Americans taxes don’t go up.

On the other hand, the Republicans want an extension on tax cuts for everyone.

The Democrats no longer have a majority in both houses and there is now a level playing field. The next couple of weeks are an indicator of the chess match that will be going on in Congress. Maybe our representatives will find some common ground and eliminate a total gridlock and stalemate.

Check out Roger’s blog at http://www.presidentobamawatch.blogspot.com