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.
The Senate is on track to pass a bill protecting same-sex marriage on the federal level this week, notching a significant bipartisan victory in the lame-duck session following months of negotiations on Capitol Hill. Senators are scheduled to invoke cloture on the Respect for Marriage Act on Monday, which would end debate and put the bill on the path to final passage.
Lawmakers return to work this week with a to-do list that includes passing a critical government-funding bill, solidifying access to same-sex marriage and setting priorities for the U.S. military before the start of the new Congress next year.
Other issues emphasized by Democrats, including passing a ban on the sale of assault-style weapons, are a long-shot given their narrow majority in the Senate. Most legislation requires 60 votes to advance in the Senate. In addition, lawmakers are discussing raising the federal debt ceiling, which limits how much the government can borrow.
Democrats are renewing their calls for a ban on assault weapons after the latest spate of multiple high-profile mass shootings, warning that their window to enact legislation is closing soon with Republicans set to take a narrow majority in the House in January.
The Commerce Department is now poised to begin distributing nearly $100 billion — roughly 10 times the department’s annual budget — to build up the U.S. chip industry and expand broadband access throughout the country. Gina Raimondo, a former Rhode Island governor, is spearheading the task.
Republicans and their longtime corporate allies are going through a messy breakup as companies’ equality and climate goals run headlong into a GOP movement exploiting social and cultural issues to fire up conservatives. The ensuing drama will unfold over the next two years in the US House, where the incoming GOP majority plans to pressure companies on immigration, equality and climate-change stances that are now being assailed by key Republicans as “woke capitalism.”