So much to do in Congress, so little time

As both parties continue to struggle over what to do on the tax and budget fight known as the fiscal cliff, the Congress has only a few days to deal with what is an extensive legislative to-do list of politically tricky items that have been awaiting action for most of this year.

Most everyone has assumed that along with a fiscal cliff deal, lawmakers in Congress would then also act on a number of legislative items that needed attention this year, such as: 

* Alternative Minimum Tax patch
* Payroll tax cut extension
* Extended long term jobless benefits
* Renewal of personal and business “tax extenders”
* Estate tax changes
* Other expiring Bush tax cut provisions, like those dealing with an expanded marriage penalty and child tax credit
* Doc Fix
* Postal Service reform
* Farm Bill renewal
* Renewal of Violence Against Women Act
* Major intelligence legislation
* Hurricane Sandy disaster aid
* Debt limit extension

In other words, with time running out on this year  – and just a week until the 113th Congress is sworn in – there is a chance that a lot of legislative initiatives won’t be addressed at all by lawmakers.

The Farm Bill is a perfect example, as it has already fallen off the cliff.

Lawmakers were unable to come to a deal, and the farm bill expired back on September 30, allowing many of the farm safety net programs to revert to the original 1949 farm legislation.

“The farmer would never put seed in the ground if he didn’t think he would have a crop,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) told me last week off the Senate floor.

“It’s about time that we’re going to have to look at an extension,” Roberts added.

Most of you reading this probably might think, whatever, so the Farm Bill expires.

Well, if nothing happens soon, some experts think milk prices could jump to as high as $8 per gallon because of the lack of a Farm Bill.

The new Congress convenes at 12 noon on January 3. It won’t surprise me one bit for the House and Senate to still be working into the night of January 2.

And so, we wait, for the equivalent of a Legislative Demolition Derby, as the 112th Congress comes to a very messy end.

Senators are back at work on Thursday, while the House is not being called back into session as yet.

Oh, this could get ugly.