Jeffries Set to Become Speaker of the House

This morning Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY) will become the House Democrats Leader (and Speaker nominee for the Democratic caucus) for the 118th Congress.  He will be the first new leader for House Democrats since 2003 when Nancy Pelosi (CA) began her incredible 20 year run as the top Democrat in the House.  He will also be the first black leader in either party and legislative body.  And at age 52, he becomes the youngest of the four congressional leaders.

But Speaker Pelosi remains in charge for the remainder of the Lame Duck session.  The House will vote today on legislation to avert a rail strike.  The bill is expected to pass the House with bipartisan support.  The Senate is also expected to pass the legislation – but it will take longer for the Senate to process the legislation.  The Senate will also pass the legislation codifying same sex marriage in federal law.  The House must pass the legislation, but that is expected, and it will soon move to the President’s desk for signature.  Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), a staunch conservative who served in the Freedom Caucus while she was in the House made a powerful statement in her floor speech supporting the bill:

“These are turbulent times for our nation. Americans address each other in more crude and cruel terms than ever in my lifetime.  For the sake of our nation today and its survival, we do well by taking this step — not embracing or validating each other’s devoutly held views but by the simple act of tolerating them.”

Progress remains slow on Congress’s “must do” items for the Lame Duck.  The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) appears to be progressing and the House hopes to vote on a compromise bill drafted by House and Senate negotiators.  But there has not been much movement on resolving the annual funding bill. Government funding runs out December 16th and all sides have virtually conceded a new one or two-week short term continuing resolution (CR) will be needed.  But, on an optimistic note, progress is slow because all sides are still working to complete to a full year Omnibus spending bill rather than kicking the can down the road into the 118th Congress.  They may not get there, but for now, all sides, including the White House, are trying. 

The House calendar for the 118th Congress was just released and can be found here!


Congressional Leaders Commit to Quickly Pass Legislation to Avert Rail Strike

Congressional leaders agreed Tuesday to head off a nationwide strike by railroad workers, promising to pass legislation quickly that would avert a work stoppage and prevent damage to the economy despite their misgivings about intervening in the dispute. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said that House lawmakers will aim to pass legislation Wednesday that accepts the original labor union agreement negotiated by Biden administration officials plus additional railway worker benefits added from subsequent negotiations. In the Senate, where bipartisan support would be needed, leaders also said they would aim to quickly pass the legislation once it is sent over from the House, even as some lawmakers pushed for changes to the deal.

Inside Biden’s calculated move to buck labor allies in hopes of averting a rail strike

The White House anticipated the decision to call on Congress to impose a negotiated labor agreement on railroad workers and operators would be universally well received, several officials said. President Joe Biden’s announcement of the move on Monday was as notable for its 506-word length and detailed, bordering on pained, explanation for the decision to implicitly buck close political allies as it was for the decision itself.

House, Senate negotiators set to meet on omnibus funding

Congressional leaders and top appropriators are set to meet as early as Wednesday to work through differences on a potential omnibus spending agreement, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Tuesday. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, along with a few top White House aides, met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Schumer earlier Tuesday to discuss the lame-duck agenda.

Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes Senate After Bipartisan Breakthrough

The Senate passed landmark legislation on Tuesday to mandate federal recognition for same-sex marriages, as a lame-duck Congress mustered a notable moment of bipartisanship before Democrats were to lose their unified control of Capitol Hill.The 61-to-36 vote put the bill on track to become law in the final weeks before Republicans assume the majority in the House of Representatives at the start of the new Congress in January. It marked one of the final major legislative achievements for Democrats before Republicans shift the focus in the House to conducting investigations of President Biden’s administration and family members.

Conservatives sharpen their knives as McCarthy works to peel off skeptics

Conservatives are digging in against Kevin McCarthy before the conclusion of a closed-door fight over consolidating the House GOP leader’s power. As House Republicans keep debating their rules for next year’s majority, the Freedom Caucus — home to several members seeking to derail McCarthy’s speakership bid — is pushing for institutional changes that they argue will restore power to rank-and-file members. Before that debate Wednesday, McCarthy allies likely will move to scrap or neuter some of the Freedom Caucus’ dozen or so proposals.