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From Newsweek

Obama’s Lame-Duck-Session Agenda

START treaty, child nutrition, and tax policy top White House list of realistic priorities in November and December.


After next month’s election is over, Democrats have officially 61 days to pass their remaining agenda items before what’s expected to be a fortified Republican caucus comes into office in January. Until now, the White House has kept mum on how President Obama feels about using the window between congressional elections and swearings-in to pass legislation, considering the cover it gives to outgoing members or recently reelected candidates who don’t have to face an angry electorate for another two years.

During an off-camera press gaggle Wednesday morning, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs enumerated the Democrats’ lame-duck agenda. On it are the ratification of the START II treaty Obama signed earlier this year with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization package addressing school-meal funding, and an impending solution to the summer-long debate over extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans before they expire in January. Gibbs also expressed interest in Jacob Lew being confirmed as head of the Office of Management and Budget.

While the list may not be exhaustive, it’s missing several marquee items that Democrats have publicly considered squeezing into the two-month session. Revising off-shore drilling regulations had been a priority for Democrats, although bickering late in the summer killed the prospect, taking down with it a larger set of environmental and energy regulations. A renewable-energy standard designed to give a boost to solar and wind energy was also rumored to be set for November or early December because of fear of enhanced Republican opposition in the new year. And a legislative package of immigration reforms, including the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented college students, was tentatively scheduled for the end of the year.

“The president thinks there are many important things we need to address before the end of the year,” Gibbs said. Considering Congress’s glacial pace, making a list of priorities might be as much a game of strategy as of being realistic.

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