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Congress seeks clarity from election for agenda

FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2012, file photo Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, leaves after meeting with reporters Capitol Hill in Washington as Congress prepares to shut down until after elections in November. Lawmakers will return in roughly seven
FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2012, file photo Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, leaves after meeting with reporters Capitol Hill in Washington as Congress prepares to shut down until after elections in November. Lawmakers will return in roughly seven weeks with a crowded list of must-do items, including averting the one-two punch of the fiscal cliff, expiring Bush-era tax cuts and automatic spending reductions that could drive the country into another recession. Two years of rancor and a divided government resulted in one of the least productive, least popular Congresses in history.
J. Scott Applewhite, File, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A frustrated Congress has quit the nation's capital with at least one hope — that the stark choice in the upcoming election will give lawmakers some clarity about what Americans want from their government.

They desperately need some direction.

Lawmakers will return to Washington in about seven weeks facing a crowded list of must-do items, topped by avoiding what's become known as the fiscal cliff. That refers to the expiration of George W. Bush-era tax cuts, along with looming automatic spending cuts that could drive the country back into recession.

Two years of rancor and a divided government resulted in one of the least productive, least popular Congresses in history. The Senate wrapped up in the middle of the night by passing a six-month bill to keep the government operating.