Taken literally, the term “lame duck” refers to an injured duck that is unable to keep up with its flock.
On Tuesday, November 13, the month-long “lame duck” session of the 112th Congress will begin – and we’ll get a hint of whether the next session will be as plagued as the current session with partisan obstructionism.
If you have members of Congress who were voted out on Election Day or are retiring, the next few weeks is their last chance to make their mark. These lawmakers are the lame ducks.
In Congress, lame ducks will be indeed be left to fend for themselves as their “flock” of reelected peers prepares to join the newly elected (or “freshman”) members in January, when the 113th Congress is sworn in.
Lame duck lawmakers are notoriously unpredictable. They no longer need to worry about raising money for reelection, so they are more free to stand up to corporate lobbyists and other moneyed interests.
However, because they’re not seeking reelection, they’re also less accountable to their constituents. Worse, they’re vulnerable to offers of cushy jobs at lobbying firms, where former lawmakers all-too-often receive six-figure salaries in exchange for doing Corporate America’s bidding and perpetuate Washington’s “revolving door” problem.
The upcoming lame duck session (scheduled to last from November 13 until December 14) is fraught with opportunities and threats: