A packed legislative slate awaits Congress when it returns to session after the term, and Democrats who currently control both chambers will face a clock to set top priorities if Republicans win back the House or flip the Senate. upcoming elections
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has predicted a “very busy” lame duck session after the midterms and before a new Congress begins in January.
“We still have a lot to do and a lot of important bills to consider,” Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor in late September. “Members should be prepared for a very, very, very, very busy agenda for the last two months of this Congress.”
The jam-packed agenda for the lame-duck session includes funding the government to avoid a shutdown before the end of the calendar year, passing the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, the year-long legislation that sets the policy agenda. and authorizes funding for the Department of Defense, as well as a Senate vote to protect same-sex marriage and other key legislation.
Democrats are still limited in what they can achieve, however, given their narrow majorities in both chambers. With a 50-50 split in the Senate, Democrats don’t have the votes to pass the 60-vote threshold, and they don’t have the votes to eliminate it. As a result, the top priorities of liberal voters — the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Such as passing legislation protecting access to abortion after Wade was overturned – will still be within the party’s reach for the foreseeable future.
Government funding is the most pressing priority facing lawmakers. The current deadline for funding to expire is set to expire on December 16 after the House and Senate approved an extension to avoid a shutdown at the end of September.
As the funding bill is seen as must-pass legislation, it will likely become a magnet for other priorities that lawmakers will try to ride along with it. More aid may be given to Ukraine as Ukraine continues to fight Russia’s invasion of the country. While that funding has bipartisan support, some conservatives object to costly contributions to Ukraine and may scrutinize the administration’s additional requests, a dynamic that is dividing Republicans on this key issue.
Democrats also want more funding to respond to the pandemic, but Republicans have pushed back on that request.
One problem that could arise in the government’s funding effort is money for the Justice Department’s investigation of the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
A House Democratic aide told CNN that funding levels for the final fiscal year 2023 have not yet been determined. The Justice Department’s needs and resources are part of this ongoing conversation, but under the leadership of Rep. Matt Cartwright, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, the House bill included $34 million that would allow the DOJ. fund these charges without reducing their efforts in other areas.
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro told CNN in a statement, “I look forward to working with my colleagues on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and passing a final 2023 spending package by December 16.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has begun work on the NDAA, and is expected to pass the massive legislation in lame-duck time. Consideration of a broad bill can encourage debate and amendments on a variety of issues.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has called for punishing OPEC for cutting production by passing legislation that would hold foreign oil producers accountable for colluding to fix prices, and the senator said he believed the measure could be passed as an amendment to the NDAA. The legislation would clear the way for the Justice Department to sue Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations for antitrust violations.
Senate Democrats will continue to confirm judges to the federal bench appointed by President Joe Biden, a key priority of the party.
A Senate vote to protect same-sex marriage is also poised for the lame duck session. In mid-September, the chamber held a vote until after the midterm elections in November, as negotiators asked for more time to lock in aid, making the bill likely to ultimately pass the chamber.
The bipartisan group of senators working on the bill said in a statement at the time: “We have asked Leader Schumer for more time and we appreciate his agreement. We are confident that when our legislation comes to a floor in the Senate, we will have bipartisan support to pass the bill.” The bill would need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome a filibuster.
Schumer has vowed to hold a vote on the bill, but the exact timing has not yet been determined. Democrats have pushed for a vote on the Supreme Court’s Roe v. After Wade was overturned, raising fears that the court could turn against same-sex people. marriage in the future.
The Senate could take up the legislation on January 6, 2021, in response to an attack by a group of pro-Trump supporters trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Over the summer, a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement to nullify the certified presidential election. The proposal would still need to be approved by both chambers. Notably, the Senate proposal has the backing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky.
“I strongly support the modest changes that our colleagues on the task force have implemented after detailed discussions,” McConnell said in late September. “I am proud to support the legislation, as long as only technical changes are made in its current form.”
If the bill passes the Senate, it would also have to clear the House, which passed its own version of legislation in September to void future certified presidential elections by proposing changes to the Election Counting Act.
Getting lawmakers to pass a bill to limit stock trading is a priority for some moderate Democrats in the House; they can continue to push for the issue to be addressed through the lame duck, although whether there will be a vote is yet to be decided. and other urgent items to overcome such as government funding may ignore the problem. The House did not vote on the proposal before the midterm elections.
“It’s a complicated issue, as you can imagine, as I understand it as a new rule for members and their families who have to follow it, so I think it deserves careful study to make sure that if we do something, we do it right.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN last month.
Meanwhile, it’s still unclear when exactly the nation will come up against the debt limit and it seems likely that for now Congress will act on the problem in a lame-duck session, especially since other must-pass bills are competing on the floor. But political battle lines are already being drawn and maneuvers are underway in Washington on the controversial and dangerous issue.
A group of House Democrats recently sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker Schumer asking for legislation to “definitely dismantle the threat posed by the debt limit” in the lame-duck post-election session. The letter, led by Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, was signed by several prominent House Democrats, including Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
Biden on Friday gave a window into how he is preparing for the political outlook on the debt ceiling, making it clear he won’t let Republican lawmakers down, threatening to send the nation into default if he doesn’t meet their demands, but adding. He does not support efforts within his own party to eliminate the debt limit altogether.