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The Dark Days of the 112th Congress -- PICTURES The Dark Days of the 112th Congress -- PICTURES

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Congress / Congress

The Dark Days of the 112th Congress -- PICTURES

December 2, 2011

As Major Garrett explains in this week's National Journal, the first year of the 112th Congress has been far from stellar. In crisis after crisis, he writes, "a tiny band of lawmakers -- sometimes leaders, sometimes ad hoc negotiators, sometimes members of a special committee -- huddled in secret and stumbled their way to either a resolution or a standoff. Meanwhile, everyone else in Congress stood by, waiting for the crisis to pass."

In the gallery below, we take a look at the biggest failures in the Capitol -- and the upcoming battles that could easily lead to more.

A sign of things to come: The U.S. Capitol in Washington is illuminated at night as Congress works late to avert a government shutdown in April 2011. Lawmakers narrowly avoided a shutdown with a compromise that kept the federal government funded through the end of the fiscal year.(ALEX BRANDON/AP, FILE)

Eleventh-hour deal: Months later, stalled attempts to raise the federal debt ceiling nearly led to a government default in August. The short-term compromise led to the creation of the now-infamous super committee.(ED BAILEY/AP)

By Invitation Only: The super committee did not reach an agreement by the Thanksgiving deadline on how to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget. The 12-person committee's failure will trigger automatic cuts to defense and entitlement spending. In interviews with National Journal, lawmakers, top congressional aides, and lobbyists identified the super committee's problems: lack of frame, scale, and scope.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)


Living on the edge: With little time left before a planned recess that begins on Dec. 16, Congress has to address the expiration of unemployment insurance benefits and the temporary payroll-tax cut enacted by last year's lame-duck Congress.(PAUL SAKUMA/AP)

Better stock up on apples: Lawmakers must also deal with a scheduled 27.4 percent cutback in reimbursement to Medicare doctors. Unless Congress acts before Jan. 1, doctors will again face steep Medicare cuts that threaten to undermine health care for millions of seniors and disabled people.(NATI HARNIK/AP, FILE)

Budget blues: Aside from shielding Medicare doctors from a huge pay cut and deciding whether millions of Americans retain jobless benefits and a small tax cut, there's still more to be done. In the ensuing chaos of the next few weeks, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, the committee's ranking member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and other members of Congress will have to write a budget that's now two-thirds unwritten.(J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP)

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