Congress races to pass funding
Congress returns this week for a sprint to the end of the year to complete the Lame Duck session. Government funding runs out on December 16th. While Members and staff hope to complete the Lame Duck session by the 16th, most are beginning to expect the session to last longer.
It all starts with the government funding bill. In September, Congress passed a stopgap bill to fund the government through December 16th. The hope was congressional negotiators could find a consensus on a full-year funding bill. But progress has been slow. Congressional leaders still have not agreed to “topline” numbers – the total amount of defense and non-defense spending for FY 2023. It is difficult to draft spending bills when the drafters don’t know how much money they have to spend. With only 19 days to go before the December 16th deadline, they are pushing up against the real problem of not having enough time to draft individual spending bills. A potential one-week or so Continuing Resolution (CR) is increasingly likely to give negotiators more time. The possibility that an agreement on a full-year Omnibus spending bill may not come to fruition is real and growing. That would push the resolution of the spending bill to the 118th Congress – when Republicans take the majority in the House. Many Democrats want to avoid that scenario because now is the Democratic-controlled Congress’s last chance to legislate with full control of the House, Senate and White House. At the same time, many Republicans want to avoid beginning their new House majority in 2023 by dealing with last year’s spending bill. So, both sides will work hard to find an agreement.
Congress also needs to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Armed Services staff worked through Thanksgiving recess to reconcile the House and Senate bills to craft a final NDAA agreement. Negotiators are getting closer and the House hopes to take up the Conference Report next week. A Senate vote would follow sometime before the last day expected in session (December 21). The Senate expects to complete work this week on the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R.8404). The House passed a similar bill over the summer – but will need to pass the Senate version before sending the bill to the President’s desk for signature.
Newly elected members are back in town for a second week of orientation. House Democrats will hold leadership elections – although the succession from Speaker Pelosi has gone so smoothly that none of the major leadership positions will be contested.
- Democratic Leader: Hakeem Jeffries (NY)
- Whip: Katherine Clark (MA)
- Caucus Chair: Pete Aguilar (CA)
- Assistant Leader: James Clyburn (SC
There are several other issues that are pressing and/or have significant pressure/support to try and complete before the end of the year. These include: Ukraine funding, tax extenders, the Electoral Count Act, cannabis banking, COVID funding, flood insurance and the potential need to intervene in a railroad strike. 28 days until Christmas.
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