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Congress on track to remain unproductive

With Thanksgiving break over, Congress is returning to Washington to do (the bare minimum of) the people's business.
Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013.
Wet, wintry weather blows into Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 27, 2013.

Congress has no shortage of pressing issues on its post-Thanksgiving plate. But with only a few days left before another holiday recess, most lawmakers are going back into the fridge with the leftover turkey. Here's what's happening on key issues before federal legislators, now on pace for the one of the least productive sessions in history, head home again on December 13. 


Speaker John Boehner keeps insisting that immigration reform is right around the corner as soon as the House GOP can figure out what exactly "immgration reform" really means. But whatever plan they settle on, they don't expect to pass anything before the end of the year. The Senate, which passed a bipartiasn comprehensive bill way back in June, is stuck waiting for the House to make a counteroffer. 


The government shutdown ended only a few weeks ago, but Congress is already hitting the first of several new deadlines created in its wake. On December 13, negotiators appointed by the House and Senate are tasked with reaching a budget compromise to replace the sequester. It's possible they come up with a modest partial fix, but just as likely they either punt for more time or give up. The government doesn't shut down if they fail to get an agreement by the deadline as January 15 is the next deadline to pass a spending bill. 

Health Care

Republicans are upset that Democrats won't delay chunks of the Affordable Care Act, but they're really upset that the White House keeps doing it without them. The latest case is the Obama administration's decision to push back the launch of an online exchange for small businesses until next year, hoping to avoid a repeat of's troubled rollout. The House Judiciary Committee is set to hold a hearing on "The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws," which is likely to include a slew of attacks on the White House for tweaking the health care rollout without Congress. 

Gay Rights

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill last month banning workplace discrimination against LGBT employees, and polls show it's an extremely popular idea. But don't expect anything to happen next month in the House. Speaker John Boehner has already made it clear he opposes the proposal and won't hold a vote on it. 


After nuking the filibuster last month, Senate Democrats are eager to start pushing through judicial nominations and presidential appointments, including Obama's nominee to chair the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen. But don't expect the change in procedure to speed things up too much -- there are still lots of procedural tricks that could gum up the works.

Related: 40 things the House could have done while it was busy repealing Obamacare