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Highly likely lame duck session could provide more time for telecom legislation to pass

I have been surprised that none of the press I’ve seen covering the telecom legislation and net neutrality have discussed the likelihood of a lame duck congressional session after the mid term elections.

Any old Washington hand will tell you that all of the political conditions are ripe for a lame duck session -- that possibly could go up close to Christmas. First, the congressional leadership wants to recess in early October to allow members to campaign. Second, the annual appropriations process is bogging down meaning that there will likely be a need for a “continuing resolution” for some of 13 appropriations bills by September 30 -- that would then be dealt with after the election. The political likelihood of needing a continuing resolution is increasing, because Democrats see an opportunity to take back the House and maybe the Senate. It is probably not in their political interest to let legislation breeze through the Senate in September which would give the majority party campaign ammunition. Most importantly, in wartime it just doesn’t make any sense for the institution of Congress to adjourn early and take themself out of the game and off the stage. From my experience I would put the probability of a lame duck session at over 90%.

Depending on the outcome of the mid-term elections, which are still too early to call, there will either be a short lame duck session or a long lame duck session.  If the Democrats take back one or both houses of Congress, which I view as unlikely, it would be a short session and prospects for passing telecom reform legislation practically would be remote. The new leaders would want the new majority to re-decide the issue to respect the will of the electorate.

However, if the more likely scenario occurs, that Congress does not adjourn and Republicans hold onto control of both houses, there will be another couple of months to get telecom legislation passed. That scenario has got surprisingly little coverage to date.

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