Lawmakers Return to Congress for Final Session

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Congress returns for the final stretch of the lame duck session on Monday and they have a lot of work left to do before they go home for the holidays.

At the top of the agenda, the Bush-era tax cuts that expire at the end of the year.

The cuts apply to rates on wage income as well as to dividends and capital gains. A failure to act would mean big tax increases for people at every income level.

The White House has signaled that it may be willing to compromise with Republicans on the tax cuts.

"There will be bipartisan support in the lame duck to extend all the tax cuts for two or three years, and I think that vote will be had before the end of the year," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Sunday. "And if the president doesn't support that, I think he's running a risk of making the economy weaker."

Congress also has a Dec. 3 deadline to pass a temporary spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also plans to raise the issue of gays serving openly in the military. However, Senate Republicans have blocked a defense bill that would end the military's ban on gays serving opening.

The Pentagon is to release a report Tuesday on how lifting "don't ask, don't tell" would affect military operations, and Democrats say they will try again to change the policy. Graham said he doesn't believe there are "anywhere near" the votes on the GOP side for a repeal right now.

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