Navigating the 2012 Lame Duck Session of Congress

Senator J. Bennett Johnston, N. Hunter Johnston, David H. Fialkov
June 26, 2012

It is becoming increasingly clear that no major policy initiatives will be enacted between now and Election Day.  Due to expiring tax provisions and automatic policy triggers that will take effect at the end of this year, serious economic policy choices will have to be made during a lame duck session after the election.  The decisions made during the lame duck session will have profound consequences for the next Congress and the new Administration.  The election of a Republican president and/or Republican control of the House and Senate would not substantially change this situation.  There is an assumption on the part of many observers that somehow the election will “clear the air” and alter the current atmosphere of gridlock, but the prospects for gridlock will remain largely unchanged.

This memorandum—which will be periodically updated until Election Day—discusses the political and legal background that have brought us to this point, as well as some of the strategic issues interested parties should consider to avoid unwelcome policy changes.