An unlikely lame-duck critic

AN UNLIKELY LAME-DUCK CRITIC…. Republican activism in opposition to a lame-duck session on the Hill this year has been pretty strong of late. The notion that the Democratic majority might try to legislate after the November elections — the way the GOP has in years past — has fueled a coordinated effort from the Republican Study Committee, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, and assorted Tea Party groups.

Yesterday, they picked up an unexpected ally.

Sen. Russ Feingold became Tuesday the first Democrat to denounce the lame-duck session, saying such work periods “are sometimes used to consider extremely controversial policies.”

“By allowing votes just after an election but before the newly elected Congress takes office, lame-duck sessions provide an opportunity to override the public’s will as expressed at the ballot box,” said the Wisconsin lawmaker, who is up for re-election this year.

“Rather than schedule a lame-duck session this year, Congress should complete its work before the upcoming elections,” he said in a statement.

I realize Russ Feingold can be idiosyncratic at times. I also realize he’s up for re-election this year, and is in the midst of a surprisingly difficult race.

But endorsing the right-wing campaign against a lame-duck session is pretty odd. “Override the public’s will”? That’s the GOP line, but it’s literally backwards — voters went to the ballot box in 2008 to elect lawmakers to fill out a specified term. That term doesn’t end the first week in November, just because Republicans wish it did.

“Congress should complete its work before the upcoming elections”? That’s a great idea. Maybe if the same Republicans who oppose a lame-duck session would let the majority schedule the necessary votes, that might actually happen. And if it doesn’t, lame-duck sessions exist so that lawmakers can complete unfinished work.

Also yesterday, Feingold launched a new radio ad, insisting that he’s more conservative on guns than his right-wing opponent.

I can only assume Feingold is deeply worried about November.