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House Returns to Empty Stage

Democrats will also have to contend with a resolution from Rep. Tom Price (Ga.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, that seeks to prevent any lame-duck session after the November elections unless there is a national emergency, for fear Democrats will use the period to ram through pieces of their agenda they could not complete earlier — like a cap-and-trade energy bill. “A lame-duck session should not be used as a post-election blitz to impose liberal programs that Americans do not support,” Price said.

Democratic aides counter that Republicans are manufacturing a bogus controversy to feed their political base and are effectively pushing for a taxpayer-funded vacation instead of doing the work of the people. They argue that there is no grand plan to shove through a lame-duck partisan agenda. And even if there were, they still don’t have the 60 votes they would need to stop filibusters in the Senate.

Meanwhile, House Democrats planned to ignore a request from Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) that they pass his legislation outlawing the automatic pay raises Members of Congress receive.

Feingold’s bill passed the Senate unanimously in March 2009, but the House has not taken it up.

“No one doubts that if that bill came to the floor for a vote, it would pass overwhelmingly,” Feingold said in a statement Monday. “All that stands between ending the current system of back-door congressional pay hikes is a few minutes of the House’s time, and the president’s signature.”

But a senior House Democratic aide noted that Democrats already have frozen Members’ pay for 2010 and 2011.

“There are no plans to take up measures that are not emergency priorities tomorrow,” the aide said. “Clearly, since we’ve already frozen pay for 2011, this is decidedly not an emergency.”

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