What Happens in Lame Duck Session After the Election Still Up in The Air

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After the election, when Congress again focuses on what can be done in that brief three to four week period, there are likely to be a lot of dead ducks. While an omnibus or mini buses are being worked on now at the staff level with the hopes they will be ready to replace a continuing resolution to fund the government, there are only a few other sure things. Most likely are the water resources authorization, National Institutes of Health research spending, Iran sanctions renewal and a mental health programs measure.

In the energy and environment space, there is still a chance a deal could be reached on broad energy legislation that actually made it through both chambers of Congress, but it still remains on the death watch list. The legislation, which would expedite the Energy Department’s approval process for exports of liquefied natural gas among many policy changes is being negotiated in Conference between the two chambers. But with time running short and sharp divides over issues such as permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, optimism for a deal is dwindling. Senate negotiators trying to work out an energy bill deal sent their House counterparts a new proposal this last week outlining what they would like to see in a conference report. The focus was on stripping out items from a House-passed bill that would not fly with Senate Democrats or the White House. Staff have been negotiating behind the scenes during the break, but no major breakthroughs are expected until lawmakers return for the lame-duck session after the election.
Both the Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty and Criminal Justice Reform are also likely dead ducks, while a tax extender bill still may be possible with Senate support if it is attached to a must pass piece of legislation. A large bipartisan group of businesses are pressing for extenders to be included. But so much depends on the outcome of the election with the control of the Senate and White House a key factor in what has to happen in the minds of Republican and Democratic leadership before the new year.