By Mike Lillis - 11/07/12 01:47 AM EST
A leading House Democrat is predicting that Congress will enact a patch to the fiscal cliff issues that will stretch as long as a year.
Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), the third-ranking House Democrat, suggested the long list of issues involved in the looming cliff set to hit next year – including a host of expiring tax benefits, a plunge in Medicare payments to physicians and a huge cut in spending on defense and other non-military programs – is simply too controversial to wrap up in the short window Congress will have in the lame duck.
"The fact of the matter is, we are all going to have a lame-duck session," Clyburn said Tuesday during an appearance on Fox News Channel's "Your World" program. "I think that lame-duck session will yield some kind of a temporary fix in order to give us the time we need to do things of a more permanent nature."
Pressed by Fox's Neil Cavuto on how long the temporary fix might be, Clyburn said, "I think up to, maybe, around a year."
A number of Capitol Hill lawmakers have hoped the two parties could come together after the elections to pass a long-term budget grand bargain rather than kicking it down the road. But Clyburn's remarks are the latest indication that leaders in both parties are losing hope about that possibility.
Indeed, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday that he's not interested in anything larger than a temporary fix to the fiscal cliff in the lame duck.
"Lame-duck Congresses aren't known for doing big things and probably shouldn't do big things, so I think the best you can hope for is a bridge," Boehner told CNN.
Clyburn, for his part, is predicting Congress will unite to avoid the cliff, but emphasized that much is hinging on what happens at the polls Tuesday.
"The results of this election I think will dictate what kind of a one-year fix we will do. I don't know of anyone who believes that we don't need to overhaul our tax code. People know that. Both candidates think that we need to do that," he said.
"You can not do that in a lame-duck session. You need time, you need to have hearings and you need the committees need to do their work and that will take a lot of time. But we cannot wait on the committees to do all that work without something being done to avoid the cliff."