The Week Ahead: Lame-duck race is on

The House and Senate return Monday from their Thanksgiving break to resume the lame-duck session.

One remaining item on the agenda for the lower chamber is a censure vote on Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) — the ethics committee recommended censure for the 20-term lawmaker and the full House has to vote on it. It can pass with a simple majority.

The House also has to address the “doc-fix,” which will prevent the cut of Medicare payments to physicians. The House is scheduled to vote on it Monday. The Senate approved the fix on Nov. 19.

The Senate could vote on a three-year moratorium on earmarks; 67 votes are needed for passage, and reaching that threshold is considered unlikely. The administration is pushing the upper chamber to hold a vote on New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the U.S. and Russia.

Other items Congress must deal with before the end of the year: whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts; passing a federal budget or a continuing resolution to keep the government running; and extending long-term unemployment benefits.

The Pentagon releases its one-year study on the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” on Tuesday. Pentagon leaders will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday and Friday.

The president’s fiscal commission is scheduled to release its final report this week. The co-chairmen issued a draft proposal in early November on how to cut the deficit.

Monday, Nov. 29

Sen.-elect Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.) is sworn in to replace appointed Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.). Kirk’s November general-election win doubled as a special-election win.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree — a 67-foot spruce from the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming — arrives on Capitol Hill. This year’s theme: “Forever West.” Photo op at 10 a.m. (The tree lighting will be held Dec. 7.), Garfield Circle, First Street and Maryland Avenue NW.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson speaks at 8:30 a.m. at the Aspen Institute on the Environmental Protection Agency’s accomplishments and future direction. 1 Dupont Circle NW.

The American Action Forum holds an event, beginning at 9:30 a.m., on how the midterm elections will affect the Democrats’ healthcare law at the state and federal level. Among the scheduled speakers: Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWant a clean energy future? Look to the tax code Democrats brace for toughest stretch yet with Biden agenda Lawmakers lay out arguments for boosting clean energy through infrastructure MORE (D-Ore.). Grand Hyatt Hotel, 1000 H St. NW.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a conference on the "North Atlantic Treaty Organization Beyond the Lisbon Summit,” with a keynote address at noon by Michele Flournoy, defense undersecretary for policy. 1800 K St. NW, 8:30 a.m.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu speaks at a newsmaker luncheon at the National Press Club at 12:30 p.m. 529 14th St. NW.

Tuesday, Nov. 30

President Obama hosts the bipartisan congressional leadership at the White House. This meeting was originally scheduled for Nov. 18 but was postponed at the request of the GOP leadership.

This will be the first public meeting of the president’s fiscal commission since co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson released their draft proposal on Nov. 10. The commission is scheduled to deliver its final report at this meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. A live webcast is available at

The Pentagon releases the results of its yearlong study into the implications of repealing the "Don't ask, don't tell" law.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) meets at 9:30 a.m. to consider proposed new rules. 1155 21st St. NW.

Former President Jimmy Carter signs copies of his book, White House Diary, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at D.C. bookstore Politics and Prose. 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Bob Woodward discusses his book, Obama’s Wars, at 6 p.m. at George Washington University. 1957 E St. NW, Harry Harding Auditorium.

Wednesday, Dec. 1

A scheduled 23 percent cut to Medicare payments to doctors takes effect unless the House passes the “doc fix.”

The fiscal debt commission holds a second day of public meetings, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Dirksen.

The CFTC meets again, also at 9:30 a.m.

Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports MORE leaves on a four-day trip to Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Bahrain.

First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaWe must mount an all-country response to help our Afghan allies Obamas, Bushes and Clintons joining new effort to help Afghan refugees Bidens, former presidents mark 9/11 anniversary MORE welcomes the military families who organized the Anacostia Branch of the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots drive. White House East Room, 12:30 p.m.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a 2:30 p.m. hearing on "Are Mini Med Policies Really Health Insurance?" 253 Russell.

Thursday, Dec. 2

The Senate Armed Services hears testimony on the Pentagon’s study to repeal its ban on gays in the military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and the study's leaders — Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer, and Gen. Carter Ham — will testify. Room SD-G50 Dirksen, 9 a.m.

The president will host a Hanukkah reception at the White House.

The 17th annual Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest will be held, including appearances by Tucker Carlson and Chef Geoff Tracy. It begins at 7 p.m. at the DC Improv. Call 202-250-9193 for tickets.

Friday, Dec. 3

The second day of Armed Services hearings on the Pentagon’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” study are reserved for the military leaders of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force — Gen. George Casey, Adm. Gary Roughead, Gen. James Amos and Gen. Norton Schwartz — as well as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright. Room SD-G50 Dirksen, 9 a.m.

The Labor Department releases its November jobs report.

—Roxana Tiron contributed to this article.