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Congress is expected to wrap up work this week on a six-month stopgap measure to fund the federal government into the next fiscal year. Then lawmakers will get back on the campaign trail until the November elections. They'll do so without taking on some unfinished business many originally thought would be doable before the election, including a cyber security bill, postal reform, and a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks about some of the details of those issues.
Hawkings on Congress not taking up some measures that were at one point expected to be on the agenda: "The most obvious reason is that they've concluded that it's in both sides' best interests to get out of town and go campaign. This will be the earliest pre-election recess in the last couple of decades. They'll be out of here by Friday. The Senate might not even take another vote by Wednesday evening, which is when they're going to vote to stop this six-month stopgap bill."
On spending cuts and Obama's report about implementing the cuts: "It essentially talked about a deep cut in virtually every program. There was not much choice made. As I recall, it was either a 4 percent cut or 5 percent cut in virtually every program. But it does focus the mind... on the fact that these things are coming. There is no way to avoid them unless they take an action to avoid them. And so we continue to think that in the lame duck session, they'll continue to wriggle out of it one way or the other."
On what kind of impact the report will have on Congressional negotiations: "I think all of that is up in the air until after the election. I think that ultimately the politics are that the defense budget cuts are the ones that are most politically scary to Democrats — actually worrisome to both sides — they don't want to cut the defense budget as deeply as this sequestration requires."