Beware the Lame Duck Bearing Gifts

The lame-duck session is now a reality, with both the House and Senate set to return November 15 for a one-week session, followed by a one-week break for Thanksgiving, and at least one more week at the beginning of December. It is possible Congress could stay in session throughout December in a replay of last year’s Christmas Eve health care vote.

Harry Reid’s surprise re-election and the Democratic retention of the Senate greatly increase the threat. Reid will now falsely claim a mandate to proceed with a far-left agenda, despite the huge national tidal wave he survived. His retained power along with the last opportunity for a long time to push legislation through the House will combine to create a dangerous environment.

A recent article in The Hill confirmed Democrats may try to pass as many as 20 bills in the lame-duck session, and there is still some risk of an all-out push on everything from energy, to card check, to enormous Social Security tax hikes based on the president’s deficit commission recommendations.

Cap and trade may be a bridge too far, especially with the decisive defeat of many coal-state Democrats, including Rick Boucher, who represented a district in the Virginia coalfields. And Joe Manchin from West Virginia, a special election winner to fill out the term of deceased Senator Robert Byrd, will be seated for the lame-duck session. Manchin had the most memorable TV ad of the cycle in which he shot the cap-and-trade bill with a rifle.

That does not however mean we can discount the threat of a very damaging energy bill, especially because lame-duck Senator and Kansas Governor-elect Sam Brownback is pushing for a renewable electricity mandate bill.

Similarly, card check is unlikely, but unions will demand and perhaps receive sweeping union pension bailout legislation.

Democrats will push these items because they don’t know when they will control the House again, and they expect more Senate losses in 2012 and 2014 because 2006 and 2008 were such big Democratic years.  So the narrow window of the lame-duck session is the last best chance to pass big-ticket, far-left agenda items.

Along with the potential threats above, there are two enormously consequential fights that are certain to occur in the lame-duck session, and we need to win them: