After a brief return to Washington, D.C., the House adjourned September 21 and the Senate adjourned early the following morning until after the elections. Congress will return shortly thereafter to begin a lame duck session during which debates over tax extenders, energy efficiency legislation, defense reauthorization, the farm bill, and more will take place.

During the brief September work period, both the House and Senate passed a six-month continuing resolution (H.J. Res. 117) to keep the federal government funded through March 27, 2013. Despite a last minute effort to fund the Department of Energy’s weatherization program, the legislation maintains a roughly 60 percent cut in program funding, leaving about $70 million that was included in last December’s omnibus funding legislation for fiscal year 2012.

Due to divisions between the parties over the severity of cuts to the food stamp program, the House adjourned without voting on either a full farm bill or any short-term extension. The current, 2008, farm bill expires September 30. The expiration will not immediately end commodity and food stamp programs, but a number of conservation and energy programs will be unable to enroll new participants as of October 1. The House may take up the measure when it returns November 13, though it could be delayed until early next year. The Senate passed its version of the five-year farm bill (S. 3240) in June.