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Congress: Doing (almost) nothing

NBC's Carrie Dann: "It's not quite a 'do nothing' Congress – but it's not far off. With only a handful of remaining legislative days on their calendar, this current Congress is on track to go down as one of the most unproductive in modern history.  The paltry number of bills Congress has passed into law this year paints a vivid picture of just how bad the gridlock has been for lawmakers, whose single-digit approval rating illustrates that the public is hardly satisfied with their trickle of legislative activity."

Politico: "The Republican civil war erupted into full view this fall, and the establishment looked like it was about to shove the movement back in line. But the early skirmishes ended with the tea party no weaker than it was. And while the party’s internal fight will rage on, the opening battles suggest the establishment is just starting to see how much it will take to reclaim the power it has ceded to the movement in recent years."

USA Today: "While urging House Republicans to back new immigration legislation, President Obama said Monday he is willing to split a bill into pieces if that will get it passed. 'That's okay,' Obama said during a speech in San Francisco. 'It's Thanksgiving. We can carve that bird into multiple pieces — a drumstick here, breast meat there.' But Obama also said a final package must include certain elements, including a proposed pathway to citizenship that has drawn opposition from Republicans."

Politico: "Those pushing for fast action on reform argue that failing to back immigration reform — and allowing the issue to bleed into 2014, and therefore probably into 2015 and beyond — could serve as a disqualifying factor for House Republicans in races for governor or senator or even attorney general and other statewide positions. That, they believe, is the way through a stalemate they blame in large part on gerrymandered, insulated House districts."

National Journal: "As congressional negotiators work to craft a budget agreement, they're working against an old foe: the calendar. Congress will soon likely be forced to consider yet another short-term, stopgap bill to fund the federal government, not because a budget deal can't be reached, but because there isn't time to reach one.... Lawmakers expressed optimism last week that progress is being made, and they predicted that the foundation for an agreement could be laid in December. But there's little chance the details could be solidified before Dec. 13—and part of the reason is timing."

Roll Call: "The entire Senate Republican Conference on Monday filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court, continuing its effort to oppose President Barack Obama’s disputed use of the recess appointment power."

USA Today: “Stalled negotiations over a farm bill threaten more than trouble for farmers and consumers, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says. They're also a broader test of whether Washington can work. The huge bill, more than a year overdue, is caught in a dispute between the House and Senate over how much to cut the food stamp program, among other issues. Vilsack notes that failure to pass it before the end of the year could double milk prices for Americans, spark retaliatory tariffs from Brazil and leave livestock producers who have been hit by storms and drought without standard federal assistance.”