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A lame duck at large in the world

Some foreign policy deals may be cut during the "Lame Duck" session.

Passions about immigration tend to be local, and nationally Hispanics loom as large as an electoral bloc as "independents" do during a presidential year, with big states like Texas and California in play if this group is on the move.

But immigration reform bills are difficult, multi-tiered creatures, and pulling this off during a busy lame duck session may be beyond hope. With advocates ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the farm lobby to human rights groups to the White House, a new push next year is likely.

Similarly, many in both parties' leadership would like to see the U.S.-Russia START deal, opposed by some on the right of the GOP's caucus, ratified by the Senate quickly to get it done before the more conservative Congress takes office. But the votes in the Senate for this particular deal (66 are needed) appear certain, so Congress likely will take its time in order to hold hearings next year on the proposed arsenal cuts.

If you think this is lame ...

Analyzing the art of the possible in Washington never yields a pretty picture. The lame duck session, at best, can remove some canards from the political debate (the national debt ceiling), right some moral wrongs (Don't ask, don't tell) and perhaps make the world just a bit safer for humans (START). It won't save the world, the economy or even America's soul: that, for better or worse, awaits consideration by the next Congress.