Bears, budgets, farmers top Congress to-do list
WASHINGTON - Congress is returning from a seven-week election break to a long list of unfinished business.
Looming large in the lame-duck session that starts today is the urgent need for President Barack Obama and Congress to figure out how to avoid the double economic hit of tax increases and automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs that kick in after Jan. 1. Those high-stakes negotiations could take weeks and the issue may not be resolved by year's end.
In the meantime, Democrats and Republicans are picking up where they left off on several bills while welcoming the newest members - 12 in the Senate and some 70 in the House - for Congress' version of freshmen orientation.