Payments to doctors, the price of milk, long-term jobless benefits and more are all on the line this week as lawmakers scramble to beat several end-of-year deadlines -- and all by Friday.
Though Dec. 31 is still a few weeks away, congressional sources say the House plans to adjourn at the end of this week. With the Senate returning from its latest recess on Monday, that leaves just five days when both chambers are in session.
The chances for resolving any or all of these issues is unclear. After a year in which little was accomplished even by congressional standards, the deadlines are piling up -- and lawmakers are also facing a Jan. 15 deadline to pass a budget or risk another partial government shutdown. On top of that, several lawmakers, and President Obama, are rearranging their schedules to attend memorial services this coming week for the late South African leader Nelson Mandela.