Congress Tackling Long List of Unfinished Business

Congress is returning from its Thanksgiving holiday with only a few weeks left before it adjourns for the year.  The Super Committee may have failed,  there’s still plenty to work on.

Both of Alaska’s senators were dismayed that Super Committee failed to come up with a way to cut over a trillion dollars from the deficit. But Senator Lisa Murkowski says far from signaling the end of work, it’s just the start.

“It seems like the heavy lifting is only now beginning,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski says the sooner Congress hammers out some deals to cut spending, raise revenue, and reform entitlement programs, the better.

Because the 2012 election for president and members of Congress will close in fast – and she says there’s less incentive to get anything done the closer it gets.

Senator Mark Begich says there’s a shopping list of things left undone that Congress must tackle before it goes home for the year.

Basic government funding is scheduled to run out Dec. 16, so Congress will need to hatch some sort of deal to keep the government running.

Unemployment benefits expire at the end of the year, as do a series of tax provisions, including the popular payroll tax cut.

Begich says despite the gridlock that stymied the Super Committee, he has seen compromise in recent weeks and points to legislation promoting hiring veterans, appropriations bills, and three trade agreements that were passed in November.

“Maybe we might have some opportunity here that we might be able to get some things done because the desire to leave before the Christmas holiday with some positive things happening in Washington would be very important,” Begich said.

And the political repercussions if Congress doesn’t go home with some positive news to report could be grim.

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