MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Congress has left Washington with a long list of things that did not get done in September. They did approve a package of loans and tax cuts for small businesses and a stop-gap measure to keep the federal government running.
Much of the rest, they punted to a lame-duck session after the election. Here's NPR's Audie Cornish.
AUDIE CORNISH: So just how long is that bill for the lame-duck session? Let's see. They'll have to pass another bill to fund the government into next year. There's a food-safety bill, a cybersecurity bill, a mining safety bill, the DREAM Act on immigration, extending some expiring unemployment benefits.
There's the defense authorization bill, repealing the don't ask, don't tell policy, the nuclear arms reduction treaty for Russia. Oh, and of course the Bush-era tax cuts due to expire this year.
But the smell of jet fuel from fleeing lawmakers was still wafting over Washington when the upcoming session became fodder for campaigning. Republicans say any GOP gains in the House and Senate should send a clear message. Republican senatorial campaign chairman John Cornyn.
Senator JOHN CORNYN (Republican, Texas): It's clearly a fiscal responsibility message. Its reining-in Washington and cut discretionary spending, fix entitlement programs and quit spending so much money.
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CORNISH: Democratic leader Harry Reid, embroiled in his own re-election campaign, disagrees on whether any such message conflicts with his agenda.
Senator HARRY REID (Democrat, Nevada): When we come back this fall, people will still need jobs, the economy will still need help recovering, it will still be our responsibility to restore prosperity to the middle class.
CORNISH: But Massachusetts Senator John Kerry says even minor shifts will change the dynamic.
Senator JOHN KERRY (Democrat, Massachusetts): If there are a lot of bridges burned, unhappy people and people anticipate a major changeover in the Congress, it's going to be very hard to get things done.
CORNISH: Lawmakers return on November 15. Majority Leader Reid has already set up procedural votes on some bills that he hopes to take up.
Audie Cornish, NPR News, The Capitol.
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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
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