Will They or Won’t They?

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 The mid-term elections have provided more certainty to the ideological direction of the next Congress. What remains to be seen is how jubilant Republicans and melancholy Democrats will cooperate with each other for the remainder of the 111th Congress. Already we have seen some maneuvering by House Republicans regarding the wrap-up of FY 11 appropriations bills (sub req’d) as senior members jockey for approval from Steering Committee members who will determine chairmanships in the next Congress. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader McConnell indicated his interest in completing the bills this calendar year.

The Bush era tax cuts have expired or are set to expire at the end of this year, including those affecting the middle class and small businesses, as well as the estate tax. Democrats have incentive to move a tax bill before the end of the year while they retain control of both chambers. Republicans believe they may be better off waiting until next year to negotiate tax cuts when they take control of the House.

In his first press conference since the elections, the President has indicated his willingness to consider extending tax cuts beyond the middle class, albeit for a year or two, something he strongly opposed before the election. The President will meet with congressional leaders (sub req’d) to map out the legislative agenda for the Lame Duck session which may also include the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

Meanwhile, these discussions about the Lame Duck agenda have already given us a taste of what to expect regarding relations between Congressional Republicans and the White House.

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