Senate Democrats are planning to rush masses of bills to the president's desk before January, when they will be forced to cede control of the upper chamber to Republicans following the GOP's midterm victories.
According to The Washington Post
, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to advance a range of measures, including legislation to fund the government until September 2015 so as to avoid a government shutdown that would otherwise be triggered on Dec. 11 when the current funding arrangement expires.
He also plans to push through a raft of pending presidential nominations, including federal judicial posts, though it will not be possible to process the hundreds of appointments awaiting approval, the Post reported.
There is also expected to be a push to renew a range of tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013, extending them through 2015.
One such measure is the credit for research-and-development expenses for businesses, something the House has already voted to reinstitute and make a part of the permanent tax code. Bipartisan support is expected, even though in the past, conservative lawmakers have opposed a piecemeal approach in favor of comprehensive tax reform.
A debate about the annual defense policy bill will likely also be on the agenda, but a bipartisan proposal to stiffen sanctions against Iran could hit a roadblock when it reaches the Oval Office.
The Obama administration is concerned that new restrictions on Iran's fuel purchases and other areas of the country's economy could damage international negotiations with the country to prevent the development of its nuclear capabilities, the Post said.
Another top priority is the renewal of the terrorism risk insurance program that was put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The program provides a financial safety net for insurers in the event of a large-scale terrorist attack. It is due to expire at the end of the year.
The proposal has already been approved in the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, but a version currently in committee in the House seeks to shut down the program in five years amid opposition by conservatives. The GOP leadership, however, has made it clear that if an acceptable proposal does not emerge in a few weeks, the Senate bill will advance to the House floor and be passed before the Christmas recess.
In the aftermath of the midterm victories, House Speaker John Boehner and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to put a halt
to the gridlock and infighting that has driven high levels of voter disapproval.
McConnell said in his victory speech
Tuesday night that the GOP has a "duty" to work with Obama on issues they agree on, and he plans to make every effort to do so, while Boehner has since issued a warning that the president must "put politics aside" to help rebuild trust with the American people.
In his post-election remarks this week, Obama acknowledged past difficulties
in the way he had worked with Congress, but said he would be happy to spend one-on-one time with Boehner and McConnell to improve the relationship.
"If the ways that we're approaching the Republicans in Congress isn't working, I'm going to try different things — whether it's having a drink with Mitch McConnell or letting John Boehner beat me again at golf, or weekly press conferences — I don't know if that would be effective.
"Whatever I think might make a difference in this, I'm going to be trying out up until my last day in office," the president said.
Leaders from both parties are due to meet with the president
at the White House on Friday.
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