November 13, 2012

Congress returns to brink of fiscal cliff

Lawmakers face an urgent need to avert a double hit of tax increases and automatic spending cuts.

By DONNA CASSATA The Associated Press

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Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, talks about the elections and the unfinished business of Congress, in a prepared statement at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The first post-election test of wills could start next week when Congress returns from its election recess to deal with unfinished business � including a looming "fiscal cliff" of $400 billion in higher taxes and $100 billion in automatic cuts in military and domestic spending to take effect in January if Congress doesn't head them off. Economists warn that the combination could plunge the nation back into a recession. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

AP

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His bill combines 19 measures favorable to outdoorsmen, allowing more hunting and fishing on federal lands, letting bow hunters cross federal land where hunting isn't allowed and encouraging federal land agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities to maintain shooting ranges.

The bill also would allow 41 hunters -- including two in Montana -- who killed polar bears in Canada just before a 2008 ban on polar bear trophy imports took effect to bring the bears' bodies across the border. The hunters were not able to bring the trophies home before the Fish and Wildlife Services listed them as a threatened species.

A five-year farm bill passed by the Senate and by House committee last summer will either have to be extended into next year or passed in the remaining weeks of the session.

The bill's only real chance for passage is if lawmakers decide to use its savings as part of negotiations on the "fiscal cliff." The Senate bill would save $23 billion over 10 years and the House Agriculture Committee bill would save $35 billion over 10 years.

Legislation setting defense policy remains undone, and the House and Senate Armed Services committees were working informally in recent weeks on a bipartisan bill that both chambers could pass.

 

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