The things left undone include the government's operating budget. The White House and Congress haven't gotten together to pass a normal budget measure since President Barack Obama took office.
Manchin took the Senate floor Thursday to complain about yet another temporary plan to fund the government. The stopgap funding measure was the 13th since Manchin went to Washington in late fall 2010.
There had been a ray of hope that a comprehensive farm bill could clear the House this week. But on Thursday, the House's Republican leadership said the chamber would not take a vote until after the election on the agriculture policies.
After the election, lawmakers could face a new political landscape - or at least a settled one - but will still face the same large and long-term problems: a huge national debt and high and persistent unemployment.
Immediately at their feet, however, will be questions about how to deal with the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire in January and automatic cuts to the defense budget that are also supposed to begin in 2013.
The automatic budget cuts were a threat Congress imposed on itself. They were meant to spur lawmakers to come up with a long-term financing plan rather than deal with cutting the military.
But, as it has with other such gimmicks - like waiting for recommendations from a bipartisan budget commission and then ignoring them - Congress may outfox itself and avoid dealing with its larger issues.
Referring to the automatic cuts, Manchin predicted, "You can be sure they will try to extend the sequestering and the automatic cuts going in Jan. 1."
He said the Congress seemed like a "don't show," a reference President Harry Truman's "do nothing" Congress.
Manchin said he would have preferred Congress stay in session instead of heading home ahead of the election.
"I haven't had anybody, madam president, in West Virginia tell me that we should hurry home to campaign," Manchin said during his Thursday floor speech, referring to the senator who was presiding over the floor session. "I have had plenty of them tell me that we need to stay here and do the job they hired us to do. And that means fixing the budget because our debt is piling up every day and it's choking our economy."
Rockefeller said he, as the second-most senior member of the Senate finance committee, would be working every day, whether Congress is in session or not.
"At this point, I think we need to get past the election - and to hear from the American people when they cast their votes - in order to find balance and make real progress on jobs, taxes and the deficit," Rockefeller said.