Dems' Pack Huge Agenda for Lame-Duck Finale

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Tax cuts, a massive spending bill, and a nuclear arms treaty are just some of the heavy items left for the lame-duck session of Congress.

Even as Christmas approaches, Democrats have no plans of slowing down.

As the session waddles on, plenty of feathers have been ruffled. The U.S. Senate finished voting to extend the Bush tax cuts to all taxpayers Wednesday. Next up, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is pushing a hefty agenda -- including a massive 1,900 page, $1.2 trillion spending bill.

The measure is designed to keep the federal government operating, but sandwiched in between funding for core government services are more than 6,000 pet projects worth an estimated $8 billion.

"The American people said just 42 days ago, 'Enough,'" said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. "Are we tone deaf? Are we stricken with amnesia? What is going on here?"

Some of the projects include:

  • More than $500,000 for blueberry and cranberry disease and breeding in New Jersey.
  • $400,000 for solar parking canopies and plug-in electric stations in Kansas.
  • $349,000 for swine waste management in North Carolina.

"I think it demonstrates profound disrespect for the American people," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, gays and lesbians have won a major victory.

"The yays are 250, the nays are 175 the motion is adopted," said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

Members voted overwhelmingly to repeal the military's long standing "don't ask, don't tell" policy which prohibits homosexuals from serving openly in the military.

"It is a very proud day for this Congress when we are fighting discrimination," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

The Senate will likely consider the measure next week. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., a strong advocate of repeal, said he has the votes to get it passed.

Another big issue the Senate will consider is the ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

Reid has suggested members work past Christmas to get their work done -- a suggestion Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., called "disrespectful and sacriligious."

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.