While the November elections will determine whether or not the Congress switches hands in the House and/or Senate this year, it's clear that lawmakers will be coming back for some lame duck work again in 2010.
A lame duck session is when the Congress meets in an even-numbered/election year after election day. Lame Duck refers to the lawmakers who are working and voting on legislation, but won't be back in the new Congress which begins in January.
It used to be that lame duck sessions were rare. Congress went from 1950 to 1970 without a lame duck.
But in the last thirty years, it has become the norm.
My first year of working in the Congress in 1980 featured a lame duck. It was then repeated in 1982.
Congress avoided lame ducks for another 12 years until 1994. Then there was one in 1998. And 2000. And 2002. And 2004. And 2006. And 2008.
In other words, it used to be rare. Now lawmakers are on course for their eighth straight lame duck session since 1998.
With very little work being done on the budget for the next fiscal year, there will be a lot of spending bills awaiting action after the elections.
The newly approved Medicare Doc Fix expires on November 30. That will need attention.
The federal estate tax is slated to come back into existence on January 1, 2011. Some lawmakers hope to address that before the end of the year.
Some of the Bush tax cuts also expire at the end of the year. Will the tax cuts for middle class families be dealt with in a lame duck?
What's the old line? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.