Congress to Reconvene for 2012 Session >>

January 16th, 2012

Congress to Reconvene for 2012 Session

The House and Senate will reconvene in the coming week for the second term of the 112th Congress. The House of Representatives returns to work on January 17th, and the Senate on January 23rd.

The 2012 session is sure to be a contentious one, following a 2011 filled with disagreements between and within the parties. With the general election fast approaching, 2012 will likely see more of the same back and forth in the halls of Congress.

House of Representatives

On the Democratic side, party leaders will likely paint the Republican leadership as unable to accomplish a strong legislative agenda and cast Speaker Boehner as an ineffective leader. The Republicans, especially in the House, remain doubtful about accomplishing anything more than the must-do spending bills and a year-long extension of the Social Security tax cuts, unemployment benefits, and a reprieve in the cuts to doctors for Medicare payments.

Infighting in the House Republican Caucus came to a head during the weeks before Christmas when members revolted against the Senate-passed deal to extend the payroll tax cut for two months. Speaker Boehner eventually passed the legislation after a drawn out fight with Tea Party members.

House Republicans are planning votes early this year on legislation that would expand domestic energy production and upgrade transportation infrastructure across the country. The bill will include offshore drilling, energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), as well as give money to states along with more flexibility to build roads and bridges. The White House is unlikely to support the GOP proposals and they are unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-led Senate.

Two major pieces of legislation, the transportation bill and the farm bill, will have a high bar to pass as Congressional leaders have been sparring over how to pay for these two pieces of legislation.

Senate

Tensions between Senate Democrats and Republicans are also high. The president’s decision earlier this month to make a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau drew a swift and angry response from Republicans.

Senate Democrats want to draw a line to job creation with almost everything they do this year. That starts with the highway and FAA bills, which Democrats say will create thousands of jobs. It will then continue all year with bills Democrats think will prove they are putting jobs first.

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