Dont blink or you may miss it, but Congress is making a brief reappearance before knocking off until next year.
The House returned Monday but plans to go back home on Dec. 13. The Senate comes back next Monday and plans to stay in town for a decent interval until the leadership decides its OK for the senators to go home too.
The two chambers will be in session simultaneously for only a week. Its only important if the House and Senate enact something that they both need to agree on but that seems increasingly unlikely.
According to the congressional legislative tracking service, Congress has enacted only 52 new laws since January. In the same period, the previous Congress passed 284 laws, according to another tracking service, GovTrack.
The GOPs tea party wing says this record of inaction is something to be proud of.
Its not as if Congress has nothing to do. Funding for a new farm bill and food stamps remains unpassed; so, too, does an extension of jobless benefits. Unless Congress acts this month, physicians payments under Medicare could be cut by 24 percent, likely causing many to pull out of the program.
And, oh yes, theres the really important business of government. Republican budget negotiator Rep. Tom Cole, Okla., told ABC Sunday the most important priority is getting a budget deal and making sure we dont default when the debt ceiling comes around.
Failure to act on either one could result in a government shutdown – as early as Jan. 15 when a measure temporarily extending government funding expires. Coles assessment is hopeful evidence that a common sense wing still exists among House Republicans.
Blink, however, and you could have missed it.