"Lawmakers on Thursday pieced together legislation extending popular tax breaks and saving doctors from a cut in Medicare payments as Republicans prepared to cede control of Congress to the Democrats. The legislation also contained several trade-related measures, including extending normal trade status to Vietnam." The AP also says "Democrats are unhappy that the budget impasse is being dropped in their laps next year, when it promises to clutter their early agenda."
"The Republicans' likely decision today to defer Congress's unfinished budget work to January means the Democrats will be considering the measures, which are loaded with spending projects known as 'earmarks,' at the same time they have promised to consider new ethics rules to make the often-secret earmarking process more open," Bloomberg reminds us. "Republicans and congressional critics say they'll be watching closely to see how the Democrats handle this clash between their promises to root out corruption and the practical politics of pork-barrel spending."
The Washington Times notices that the House Ethics Committee has not released its report on former GOP Rep. Mark Foley's behavior "despite looming adjournment and an October promise that the probe would conclude in 'weeks, not months'... A spokesman for [Pelosi] said the California Democrat would be disappointed if the investigation is unresolved when the House adjourns either today or tomorrow."
The AP says that hug between retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and incoming Leader Harry Reid "was awkward at best. When… Reid held open his arms to the man he battled and will replace… the Tennessee doctor hesitated before returning the embrace. Loosely."