HILL WATCH: Congress Returns for Short Session, Will Punt on Tax Issues

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Congress returns this week for a short work period where lawmakers are expected to spend more time on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded and operating than on tax issues. It is possible that the Senate will vote on a $205 billion bill (S. 3521) to extend expired and expiring tax cuts such as the research and development tax credit and a patch for the alternative minimum tax, but no promises have been made. Lawmakers also could seek to hold additional pre-election political votes on an extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to highlight the differences between the party plans. But a major debate on how to address the nation's tax policies and the fiscal cliff will not occur until the post-election lame-duck session.