Taxes, preventing shutdown top items on the agenda of the lame-duck Congress

Government And Institutions Associated Press

The lame-duck Congress has a stacked agenda and little time to accomplish it. Top items include:

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— Preventing a government shutdown. Temporary funding expires Thursday, and Capitol Hill leaders are finalizing a sweeping $1.1 trillion spending bill that would fund the government through September 2015.

— Tax "extenders." Dozens of tax breaks for individuals and businesses expired in January. The House passed a bill last week extending them through the end of the year, so taxpayers can claim them on their 2014 returns. The Senate is expected to act this week.

— Tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities. The House overwhelmingly approved a bill last week to allow Americans with disabilities to open tax-free bank accounts to pay for expenses from education to housing and health care. The measure was attached to the tax extenders bill.

— Ban on Internet access taxes. A provision that prevents state and local governments from taxing access to the Internet expires Thursday. An extension could be attached to a government funding bill.

— Terrorism risk insurance. The federal government's terrorism risk insurance program expires at the end of the year, and its renewal is important to economic sectors such as construction and hospitality. Chances are iffy at best for a long-term renewal.

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— Defense policy. Last week, the Republican-controlled House approved a $585 billion defense policy bill that grants President Barack Obama the authority to expand the U.S. military campaign against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria. The Senate is expected to take up the bill this week.