The U.S. Congress went home to campaign for re-election, leaving a slew of unfinished business until after the Nov. 2 election at the earliest.

In addition to legislation on energy, immigration, gays in the military and extending the Bush tax cuts, no action was taken on the Akaka bill despite the desire of Hawaii’s congressional delegation.

With the House expected to fall to Republicans and the Senate’s Democratic majority likely to shrink, the last, best chance for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians may lie in a lame-duck session before the 112th Congress is sworn in come January.

Or not.

Should House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid elect to call members back to work, the move is sure to anger Republicans — especially if they’ve gained seats (including, possibly, Reid’s).

Washington, D.C.-based The Hill reported Thursday that members of the minority party are already vowing to oppose key pieces of legislation in November and December.

“Democrats have indicated they will try to move as many as 20 pieces of legislation before the new Congress gets sworn in,” according to The Hill. “Topping the agenda: votes on an extension of the George W. Bush tax cuts for the middle class, the defense reauthorization bill that includes a repeal of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,’ the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) and an extension of unemployment insurance benefits.”

Sen. Daniel Akaka is up for re-election in 2012 — when he will be 88 — as is President Barack Obama.

On Friday, Sen. Akaka issues a press release stating that the American Bar Association this week wrote all 100 senators urging them to pass the Akaka bill — aka the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act.

“Although there are many important bills pending on the Senate calendar, I remain optimistic that the Senate will be able to consider the bill during the lame-duck session,” said Akaka.

“The endorsement and support of the American Bar Association is critical and I am certain it will help to convince some of my colleagues to consider the matter when we return from recess,” said Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

But except for the Hawaii congressional delegation, the Akaka bill does not appear to be on anyone’s wish list. The Senate, where the legislation is stuck, requires 60 votes to invoke cloture and block a filibuster.

Democrats have only 57 Senators and two independents who caucus with the party. At least one Republican would have to cross the aisle to start debate on the Akaka bill. Only a simple majority is required for passage.

As of Friday, the Senate’s official calendar did not indicate whether or when the Senate would reconvene.
The House calendar says it adjourns Oct. 8 (it actually adjourned Thursday). No further business is slated through the end of the year.

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