This morning, a lame duck session of congress begins. It is the last few weeks for some representatives but just the beginning for more than 100 new faces.
Lawmakers will have to decide on whether to allow the Bush-era tax cuts to expire. They will have to balance keeping people from facing significant tax increases with keeping federal agencies funded to avoid a government shutdown.
There are also huge issues with medicare on the table. Doctors worry a 23 percent cut in their pay will take effect if congress ends the session in a bipartisan standoff. Some of those doctors are threatening to stop taking medicare patients.
While congress debates these issues, the freshmen will be looking on, learning the ropes for when they take over in January. Two women from Alabama have made history, Democrat Terri Sewell as the first African-American woman from Alabama elected to congress and Republican Martha Roby also as one of the first women being sent to Washington after a contested vote. Mo Brooks of Huntsville becomes the first republican in 140 years to represent his district.
Monday, much of the focus will be on Democrat Charlie Rangel of New York, as his house ethics trial begins. He is the former chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
Rangel faces 13 charges that include using congressional staff and letterhead for personal use and accusations of accepting favors, including a rent controlled apartment in New York, in exchange for his influence.
Eighty year-old Rangel plans to defend himself. He parted ways with his team of attorneys in August after complaining on the house floor he could no longer afford his $2 million legal bill.