The Heritage Foundation

Factsheet #152

November 12, 2014

November 12, 2014 | Factsheet on

Lame Duck Threats in 2014

“They [lame ducks] are free, for two months and at taxpayer expense, to vote for whatever they please…without their constituents being able to do anything about it.”

—Jim DeMint

Members

Representatives and Senators who have either announced their retirement or been replaced by voters are known as “lame ducks.” Unlike their colleagues, they are free from public accountability for the two months commonly called the Lame Duck session.

Legislation

Bills are delayed until the Lame Duck so they become “must pass” pieces of legislation. This urgency gives lawmakers the ability to slip their least popular ideas into federal law with few objections.

Best Solution

Conservatives should focus on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that would preemptively freeze spending for any future executive amnesty and allow them to maintain the leverage of the purse. A long-term CR forfeits the leverage of the purse to rein in executive overreach and stop bad policies for the duration of the CR.

Debates for the New Congress, Not the Lame Duck

  • Executive amnesty (DACA) – Congress should prevent the use of funds for any future executive amnesty. This practice of ignoring the separation of powers is unfair to American citizens and the millions around the world waiting their turn for legal immigrant status.
  • Medicare “doc fix” – All agree that Medicare’s flawed payment system should be repealed and replaced, but Congress should address the problem in regular order and in a fiscally responsible fashion.
  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – CHIP has enough funding for the rest of fiscal year 2015. Congress should use due diligence to review the program’s effectiveness, enrollment, and its interaction with the Affordable Care Act before debating additional funding.
  • Internet sales tax – Congress should avoid taxing the Internet by either failing to permanently renew the current tax moratorium on Internet services or by passing the new Internet sales tax known as the Marketplace Fairness Act.
  • Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) – TRIA is no longer necessary and should be allowed to expire now that insurers can price terrorism insurance in the insurance market.
  • Tax Extenders – Congress should make permanent those tax provisions that are sound policy and replace those that are not with broad-based, pro-growth tax policies.
  • Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – Voluntary actions and market forces have emerged that undermine the clamor for federal intervention through ENDA, a bill that would negatively affect civil liberties, the free market, and the marriage culture.
  • The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) – The enormous growth of the welfare state over the past 50 years did not occur overnight. To a considerable degree, the welfare state has expanded due to incremental expansions of benefits and eligibility, like the elimination of asset tests found in this bill.
  • Treaties and presidential nominations – Nominees should be thoroughly vetted when new Members, elected by the will of the people, can participate in the process.

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