Senate Republican Leader McConnell pointed out yesterday that the Senate has a lot of unfinished and important business to complete before the end of the year:

In addition to that, there are a number of things that actually must be done this month: We have a debt ceiling expiring, or needing to be expanded, according to the Administration; we have not passed appropriations bills; there are tax extenders that expire at the end of the year; there are PATRIOT Act provisions that expire at the end of the year.

Some of these items can be passed quickly, if there is bipartisan consensus on the substance. If, however, the majority wants to make changes to these laws, then Leader Reid will need to devote floor time to debating and possibly amending or having cloture votes on these bills.