Like some other conservatives, DeMint also takes issue with the idea of taking action on treaties before the start of the new Congress in January. That includes the Law of the Sea Treaty, a multilateral pact governing use of deep seas that he has long opposed. That measure is not really expected to come up during the lame duck, even though in remarks Tuesday at the Center for a New American Security, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta called out the Senate for the delay.
“It’s an outrage that we have not done that,” Panetta said. “But they’re constantly running into a wall because, for some ideological reason of a few members up there, this has become an issue that they’re going to fight and they’re going to stop as best they can.”
Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania worked in September to gather opposition to considering any treaties during the lame-duck session.
An omnibus appropriations bill would be another item sure to draw conservative ire. On Tuesday, a House GOP aide gave favorable odds to assembling a measure to fund the federal government for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year, while the Senate Appropriations Committee says it will be prepared to being a bill to the floor if Reid so desires.
DeMint supported enactment of a six-month continuing resolution (HR 117) to keep the government running through the first three months of calendar year 2013 because it would prevent the need to move an omnibus before the end of the current Congress. The report warns that “zombie legislators” might try to move another omnibus, which happened after the 2000 election.
Philosophical opposition to lame-duck sessions is nothing new, dating back to the earliest days of the republic. Lame-duck sessions used to have the potential to drag on much longer because the new Congress was seated in March of the year following elections rather than January.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.