Lawmakers are growing increasingly anxious about the overstuffed lame-duck session, when they will likely be confronted with a slew of major decisions on taxes and spending.
Democrats and Republicans are now raising the possibility that, with little expected to get done on Capitol Hill before the November election, some or most of those determinations will have to be punted until 2013.
It is impossible to predict what will happen in the lame duck, though more and more people around Washington believe there will be a lot of talk in November and December, and little action. A six-month bill that raises the debt ceiling and basically adheres to current policy has attracted a fair amount of chatter on K Street and in the halls of Congress.
That sort of delay could further undermine how the financial markets and credit-rating agencies view the U.S. government. But leading dealmakers in Congress who want to lay the groundwork now for lame-duck deals on taxes and budget cuts are pessimistic they can even get that done.