Dem leader: No ‘secret plan’ to move big items in lame-duck session

House Democrats aren’t planning to use a lame-duck session of Congress after the elections to move major legislation, a Democratic leader said Tuesday.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the assistant to the Speaker who also heads up House Democrats’ campaign committee, said Democrats aren’t interested in pushing through major bills during the period between the elections and when new lawmakers are sworn into office in early January.

“[N]o one should think there’s some secret plan for after the election on big issues,” Van Hollen said during an appearance on MSNBC. “There’s no secret or overt plan to do something like that.”

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Republicans have demanded that Democrats swear off moving any major bills during the lame-duck session, based on fears that Democrats who might lose or retire at the end of their terms may seek to use their outgoing majorities in the House and Senate to pass through controversial legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act, or “card check” bill, or climate change reform.

Van Hollen stopped short of pledging on behalf of Democrats to do no major legislation during the lame-duck session, instead framing such a move as unnecessary.

“I don’t expect to see a lot of major legislation [in] the lame-duck session,” he said. “As you well know, we’ve passed an awful lot of legislation in the House and the Senate, and much of it has reached the president’s desk.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she’s hopeful Democrats would wrap up their work to such an extent that a lame-duck session wouldn’t be necessary, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) seemed more open to it over the weekend.

“We’re going to have to have a lame-duck session, so we’re not giving up,” Reid said at the weekend Netroots Nation conference of liberal bloggers, in reference to Democrats’ unfinished priorities.

Those priorities include comprehensive immigration reform, climate change legislation and a whole host of other issues. Democrats in the Senate will attempt to take up one top item, the Disclose Act, on Tuesday, but it appears they won’t have the votes to proceed with the legislation. Reid will also bring up a scaled-back energy bill, in lieu of a broader climate bill, before the Senate breaks for its August recess.


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