As the Senate returns Monday for what many hope will be its final three weeks of the year, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has a checklist of specific accomplishments that he wants to achieve.
The Democratic leader hopes to pass legislation on several proposals that he was unable to bring to the floor during the summer, including a Defense authorization bill, a tax extenders package and an energy bill that would make a dent in high gas prices.
But the way forward on accomplishing any of these measures is unclear. Before breaking for the August recess, Republicans insisted that they wouldnt consider any legislation until an energy bill was passed; some movement on that is expected this week.
However, passage of a continuing resolution, which will fund the government after the fiscal year concludes Sept. 30, may prove even more difficult. Republicans have insisted on linking controversial offshore drilling proposals to passage of the CR.
Democrats in both the House and Senate are shooting for a late September adjournment, although Reid has strongly hinted that his chamber may not meet that deadline.