In addition, benefits for the long-term unemployed are due to expire in the next few days, and doctors face the prospect of a deep cut in the fees they receive for treating Medicare patients unless legislation is passed to prevent it.
Further compounding the year-end maneuvering, there are warnings that the price of milk could virtually double beginning next year.
Congressional officials said that under current law, the federal government is obligated to maintain prices so that fluid milk sells for about $20 per hundredweight. If the law lapses, the Department of Agriculture would be required to maintain a price closer to $36 of $38 per hundredweight, they said. It is unclear when price increases might be felt by consumers.