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

{mosads}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

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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