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With Plenty To Do, Congress Takes Vacation

Congress has passed an economic stimulus bill and tougher car fuel efficiency standards, but the list of what they haven't done is longer, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

Congress said they felt our pain; they said they wouldn't be able to choke down their July 4th hot dogs unless they passed a bill to help with the mortgage crisis.

"It may knock a few people out of parades on July 4th or whatever," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week. "However long it takes us to do this."

They promised to stay, then promptly left with unfinished business.

It was just another blow to Americans hit by the mortgage crisis - tens of thousands of them spending the holiday barely hanging on to their homes.

Congress hasn't done any better on the energy crisis.

"We will lead our nation in a new direction toward energy independence that strengthens both our economic and national security," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over a year ago.

Back then gas prices had just hit a new record, $3.07. Today, prices stand at more than $4.09 and still there's no bill even under debate on Capitol Hill to address the crisis.

Congress' to-do list grows longer by the day:

There's one viable housing bill stalled in the Senate. It would help 400,000 people refinance their homes with affordable, government-backed loans.

Congress has so far failed to extend popular energy tax credits. Without them businesses and residents lose incentive to use renewable energy like wind and solar power.

In all, a dozen other major bills are waiting for attention:

  • A tax bill that continues credit or deductions for research and development, state and local sales taxes, tuition, children and charitable contributions.
  • A bill to eliminate new pay cuts for doctors who treat Medicare patients.
  • Important measures giving direction to the FAA and the Defense Department.
  • A revamp of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which oversees toy safety.

    Also on Congress' plate - 12 massive spending bills and dozens of judicial nominees.

    Analysts say both sides are to blame for using political tactics that block even hugely popular measures. And time is running sort. Historian Douglas Brinkley says whatever didn't get done before July 4th doesn't stand much of a chance afterwards in a presidential election year.

    This means 150 million hot dogs eaten, 8,000 foreclosures a day and gas at more than $4.09 a gallon. For many, Independence Day means having to get by - without depending on Congress.

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