September 7, 2016
Congress is back from its seven-week summer recess, but many Americans may soon wish the lawmakers had stayed on vacation. Some members of Congress already anticipate going on an end-of-year spending binge—on the taxpayers’ dime, of course. All they need to do is wait until the elections are over and a “lame duck” session is held.
It used to be that lame-duck sessions were convened to address true emergencies. But over the years they’ve morphed into an opportunity for non-reelected or retiring politicians—no longer accountable to voters—to push through omnibus spending bills and other lamentable legislation that would never get through the normal legislative process.
New Heritage research by James Wallner and Paul Winfree explains why legislating during a lame-duck is a bad way to govern. “Intentionally waiting to take up controversial legislation until after the people vote devalues the accountability link between the people and their representatives,” Wallner and Winfree argue.
Instead, they insist, this Congress should pass any important legislation (spending bills) before the November elections, leaving other legislation for a new Congress and new president to address. Not surprisingly, 83% of the American people agree that lawmakers should take care of its must-pass legislation prior to a lame-duck.
See below for a brief overview of lame-ducks and why we should avoid one this December.