November 12, 2014 | Issue Brief on United States Government
A lame duck session refers to when one Congress is in session after a new one has been elected. After last week’s election, Members of Congress who lost elections or are retiring are lame ducks, who are protected from the consequences of passing politically unpopular legislation. This lame duck session is particularly important because the Republicans will take control of the Senate in January and retain control of the House of Representatives, leaving Senate Democrats with a brief window of opportunity until they lose control of the Senate in January.
Lame duck sessions are often abused to enact fiscally irresponsible policies. As then-Senator Jim DeMint (R–SC) wrote in a 2012 report, “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.”
Congress should not give into demands by special interest groups to rush legislation through the lame duck session—legislation that the new Congress could address with the deliberation that these issues deserve.
Specifically, Congress should postpone considering:
—Romina Boccia is the Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, of the Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity, at The Heritage Foundation. Heritage experts David R. Burton, Curtis S. Dubay, James L. Gattuso, Emily J. Goff, David Inserra, Robert E. Moffit, Nina Owcharenko, and Hans A. von Spakovsky contributed to this report.
 Emily Goff, “‘Lame Duck’ Is Not the Time for a Highway Bill,” The Daily Signal, July 28, 2014, http://dailysignal.com/2014/07/28/lame-duck-time-highway-bill/.
 This list is by no means exhaustive. For example, it does not include discussion of issues pertaining to legislation that would extend funding beyond the December 11 expiration of the current continuing resolution.
 News release, “Medicare Trustees Report Delivers Good News but Need for Reform Remains,” Committee for Responsible Federal Budget, July 30, 2014, http://crfb.org/blogs/medicare-trustees-report-delivers-good-news-need-reform-remains (accessed November 5, 2014).
 Chris Jacobs, “Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate: Principles for Reform,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2827, July 18, 2013, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/07/medicares-sustainable-growth-rate-principles-for-reform.
 Robert E. Moffit, “Medicare SGR Replacement Is Not Worth More Deficit Spending,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 4172, March 14, 2014, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/03/medicare-sgr-replacement-is-not-worth-more-deficit-spending.
 Robert Moffit, “A Temporary Medicare SGR ‘Patch’ Is Better Than Permanent Deficits,” The Daily Signal, March 26, 2014, http://dailysignal.com/2014/03/26/temporary-medicare-sgr-patch-better-permanent-deficits/.
 Shannon Donahue Attanasio, “Growing Support for Congress to Extend CHIP in the Lame Duck Session,” Families USA, October 28, 2014, http://familiesusa.org/blog/2014/10/growing-support-congress-extend-chip-lame-duck-session (accessed November 5, 2014).
 Robert Rector and Romina Boccia, “How the ABLE Act Would Expand the Welfare State,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2972, November 10, 2014, http://report.heritage.org/bg2972.
 Emily Goff, “HTF: Lame Duck Would Deprive Congress of Real Debate,” The Daily Signal, July 20, 2014, http://dailysignal.com/2014/07/30/htf-lame-duck-deprive-congress-real-debate/.
 David Burton, “Do You Want Your Private Financial Information Automatically Shared with Russia or China?” The Daily Signal, July 23, 2014, http://dailysignal.com/2014/07/23/want-private-financial-information-automatically-shared-russian-chinese-governments/.
 James L. Gattuso, “Taxing Online Sales: Should the Taxman’s Grasp Exceed His Reach?” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2817, June 19, 2013, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/06/taxing-online-sales-should-the-taxmans-grasp-exceed-his-reach.
 James L. Gattuso, “Read My Bits: No New Taxes (Permanently),” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 4242, June 30, 2014, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/06/read-my-bits-no-new-taxes-permanently.
 David Inserra, “Terrorism Risk Insurance Act: Time to End an Unnecessary Program,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 4167, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/03/terrorism-risk-insurance-act-time-to-end-an-unnecessary-program.
 David C. John, “TRIA: Time to End the Program,” testimony before the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity, Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, September 11, 2012, http://www.heritage.org/research/testimony/2012/09/terrorism-risk-insurance-act-time-to-end-the-program.
 Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014, H.R. 4450, 113th Cong.
 U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, National Travel and Tourism Office, “Fast Facts: United States Travel and Tourism Industry, 2013,” May 2014, http://travel.trade.gov/outreachpages/download_data_table/Fast_Facts_2013.pdf (accessed November 5, 2014).
 U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, National Travel and Tourism Office, “U.S. Department of Commerce Forecasts Continued Strong Growth for International Travel to the United States 2014-2019,” October 22, 2014, http://travel.trade.gov/view/f-2000-99-001/forecast/Forecast_Summary.pdf (accessed November 5, 2014).