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Congress: A really lame duck

“Republicans and Democrats appear content to end the 111th Congress the way it started, by following a ‘change’ election with a round of fiercely partisan fighting over an agenda that even many Democrats have little interest in,” Roll Call reports. “In fact, the House and Senate returned to Washington, D.C., on Monday for the lame duck with few solid details about what will be on their plates beyond partisanship.”

“Senate Republicans on Monday formally claimed President Obama’s former Senate seat with the swearing-in of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.),” The Hill writes.

The doc fix is in: “Congress agreed to a one-month delay in Medicare payment cuts to doctors yesterday, giving a short-term reprieve to a looming crisis over treatment of the nation’s senior citizens,” the AP says.

“Rep. Charles Rangel returned to Capitol Hill yesterday to anxiously await a House vote on disciplinary action against him for ethics violations,” the New York Post writes. “As early as today, the 80-year-old Harlem Democrat will face a vote on censure, the most severe punishment short of expulsion. The vote could come up anytime.”

“The latest trove of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks provides a rare glimpse into behind-the-scenes meetings Senator John F. Kerry has held with world leaders, offering a window on his style of diplomacy and providing an unvarnished view of his take on some of the United States’ most formidable foreign policy problems,” the Boston Globe writes. “While the cables do not differ dramatically from statements that Kerry, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has made publicly, they portray him as a statesman who is constantly seeking a middle ground and appearing to hold out hope that longtime foes of the United States -- such as Syria and Iran -- might be prodded into friendlier relations with the United States. Analysts, however, cautioned that Kerry’s private conversations with foreign diplomats should not be taken as his unfiltered view on a subject, given that diplomatic exchanges are often geared toward finding common ground.”