How lame is the lame duck session of Congress going to be?

As President Obama readies his executive amnesty order, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is mapping out his last days in power.

The Hill reports on Reid's ambitious agenda:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to confirm 50 of President Obama’s nominees and move an omnibus spending bill in a last hurrah before Democrats give up power in the Senate.

The nominees are part of a packed lame-duck schedule that Reid is furiously planning, and that will be a topic at Friday’s White House lunch meeting between Obama and congressional leaders.

Reid also wants to move a package of expiring tax provisions, the annual Defense Department authorization bill and an extension of a tax moratorium on Internet purchases in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That will be a challenge not only because of the tight schedule, but because of expected clashes between Democrats over what should be prioritized before Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) takes over the Senate’s agenda in January.

For example, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is about to lose his chairmanship, is pushing for consideration of a bill reforming the National Security Agency despite opposition from other Democrats.

One of the most pressing needs from the administration’s point of view is getting the Senate to confirm as many as 38 State Department nominees, but Reid will have to be judicious given the priorities fighting for precious floor time in the Senate.

Senate Democrats last year killed the Senate filibuster for most nominees, but it still takes up hours of floor time to move a nominee if there is a single objection.

Advocacy groups are pressing the leader to move judicial nominees as quickly as he can, knowing it will be much harder to move them when McConnell takes over.

“There are 16 [district court] nominees on the floor and there are eight more district court nominees in committee and the expectation is that all of them can and should be confirmed before the end of the year,” said Michelle Schwartz, director of justice programs at the Alliance for Justice.

There are a total of 24 judicial nominees on the executive calendar. Although there are seven circuit-court vacancies, none of the pending nominees are for those seats.

Another wildcard is that Obama is expected to soon nominate a candidate to replace Attorney General Eric Holder. This could trigger another time-consuming fight, particularly if Obama picks a controversial nominee. 

Without the filibuster, Republicans can do little to stop Reid from ramming through so many judges. If Reid gets his way, the federal courts will be bastions of liberalism for a generation.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to cooperate with Reid on getting a spending bill through the Senate. It will likely differ dramatically from what the Republican House comes up with, which means coming down to the wire again, trying to avoid a government shutdown. The big issue will probably be should Congress pass a long term spending bill or a stop gap continuing resolution? House Republicans probably want a shorter CR since it will give them the opportunity to cut the budget beyond what Senate Democrats are currently willing to go.

 

 

As President Obama readies his executive amnesty order, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is mapping out his last days in power.

The Hill reports on Reid's ambitious agenda:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to confirm 50 of President Obama’s nominees and move an omnibus spending bill in a last hurrah before Democrats give up power in the Senate.

The nominees are part of a packed lame-duck schedule that Reid is furiously planning, and that will be a topic at Friday’s White House lunch meeting between Obama and congressional leaders.

Reid also wants to move a package of expiring tax provisions, the annual Defense Department authorization bill and an extension of a tax moratorium on Internet purchases in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That will be a challenge not only because of the tight schedule, but because of expected clashes between Democrats over what should be prioritized before Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) takes over the Senate’s agenda in January.

For example, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is about to lose his chairmanship, is pushing for consideration of a bill reforming the National Security Agency despite opposition from other Democrats.

One of the most pressing needs from the administration’s point of view is getting the Senate to confirm as many as 38 State Department nominees, but Reid will have to be judicious given the priorities fighting for precious floor time in the Senate.

Senate Democrats last year killed the Senate filibuster for most nominees, but it still takes up hours of floor time to move a nominee if there is a single objection.

Advocacy groups are pressing the leader to move judicial nominees as quickly as he can, knowing it will be much harder to move them when McConnell takes over.

“There are 16 [district court] nominees on the floor and there are eight more district court nominees in committee and the expectation is that all of them can and should be confirmed before the end of the year,” said Michelle Schwartz, director of justice programs at the Alliance for Justice.

There are a total of 24 judicial nominees on the executive calendar. Although there are seven circuit-court vacancies, none of the pending nominees are for those seats.

Another wildcard is that Obama is expected to soon nominate a candidate to replace Attorney General Eric Holder. This could trigger another time-consuming fight, particularly if Obama picks a controversial nominee. 

Without the filibuster, Republicans can do little to stop Reid from ramming through so many judges. If Reid gets his way, the federal courts will be bastions of liberalism for a generation.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to cooperate with Reid on getting a spending bill through the Senate. It will likely differ dramatically from what the Republican House comes up with, which means coming down to the wire again, trying to avoid a government shutdown. The big issue will probably be should Congress pass a long term spending bill or a stop gap continuing resolution? House Republicans probably want a shorter CR since it will give them the opportunity to cut the budget beyond what Senate Democrats are currently willing to go.