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The U.S. Senate returns this week after its Memorial Day recess, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is making a push for the Paycheck Fairness Act. It's intended to help close a wage gap between men and women working in equivalent jobs, but similar efforts have come up short in the past. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, has the latest from Capitol Hill. Following are highlights of his analysis.
On why Mikulski is focusing on the Paycheck Fairness Act now, and the chances of It passing: "She's the dean of Women on the Senate, and Democratic leadership Harry Reid, has asked her to carry the ball on this. But there is very little expectation that this is going anywhere. The Republicans are going to block this because they say it's going to invite a rash of litigation on their general view, which is the fewer losses the better. That's the argument they're going to try to make. And the Republicans are intent on fighting back against the Democrats who have put this legislation out there as part of their effort to portray this war on women."
On Sen. Mark Warner's statement while--CNN's State of the Union--that Congress will still be divided after the election: "I absolutely 100 percent agree. Even if the Republicans were to win control of the House, the White House, and the Senate--if they were to essentially win control of all branches of government--there's no way they could pick up 60 seats to get to the Senate, which means the Democrats could block them at every turn, so you would effectively still have a divided government."
On how Congress will take care of unfinished business during the lame duck session this year: "As we know, the so-called fiscal cliff is looming ahead... in theory, the time after an election is the least politicized time in the entire two-year cycle. But more and more it looks as though both sides are willing to kick the can down the road... by one more year."
Talk about appealing to constituents: Sen. Mark Warner wants to take unnecessary reports off the plates of government workers.