Bears, Budgets, Farmers Top Congress 'To-Do' List

By  | 

WASHINGTON - Congress has returned from a seven-week election break to a long list of unfinished business.

Looming large in the lame-duck session that started Tuesday is the urgent need for President Barack Obama and Congress to resolve how to avoid the double economic hit of tax increases and automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs kicking in Jan. 1. Those negotiations could take weeks.

In the meantime, Democrats and Republicans are picking up where they left off on several bills while orienting their newest members - 12 in the Senate and some 70 in the House.

Both parties meet Wednesday morning in the Senate to decide leadership jobs, with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, expected to move up to the GOP's No. 2 spot of minority whip.