Democrats predict “very busy” lame duck.Here’s what’s on the agenda


A tight legislative to-do list awaits Congress as Congress reconvenes after the midterms — Democrats who currently control both chambers will face a ticking time to set key priorities if Republicans win Return to the House of Representatives or try to overturn the upcoming Senate election.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer predicts a “very busy” lame-duck session — the period after midterms and before the start of the new Congress in January.

“We still have a lot of work to do, and a lot of important bills to consider,” Schumer said in his Senate remarks in late September. “Members should prepare for an extremely, stressful, busy agenda in the last two months of this convention.”

The lame duck agenda includes: funding the government to avoid a shutdown by the end of the calendar year, passing the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, the annual must-pass legislation that sets the policy agenda and authorizes funding for the Department of Defense, and a vote in the Senate to protect same-sex marriage and potential consideration of other key legislation.

However, given the tiny majority of Democrats in both chambers, there are still limits to what they can achieve. With the Senate divided by 50 to 50, Democrats lack the votes to overcome the 60-vote threshold for the filibuster — and no votes to repeal the filibuster. As a result, major priorities for liberal voters — such as overturning Roe v. Wade on the Supreme Court — will remain out of the party’s reach for the foreseeable future.

Government funding is the most pressing priority lawmakers will face during the lame duck period. The current deadline for funding to expire is Dec. 16, after the House and Senate passed an extension to avoid a shutdown at the end of September.

Since the funding bill is seen as must-pass legislation, it is likely to attract other priorities that lawmakers may try to keep pace with. Further aid to Ukraine is likely to be provided as Ukraine continues to counter Russian aggression in the country. While the funding has bipartisan support, some conservatives are hesitant to make a hefty donation to Ukraine and may scrutinize other demands from the administration more closely, a dynamic that has left Republicans on the key issue. There are differences.

Democrats also want more funding for the pandemic response, a request Republicans have rejected.

One issue that may arise during government-funded work is funding the Justice Department’s investigation into the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

A House Democratic aide told CNN that the final funding level for fiscal 2023 has not yet been determined. The Justice Department’s needs and resources are part of an ongoing conversation, but under the leadership of the House of Representatives. Matt Cartwright, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, said the House bill includes $34 million that would allow the Justice Department to fund these prosecutions without reducing efforts in other areas.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to pass the final 2023 spending package by the Dec. 16 deadline,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro told CNN in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Senate has begun work on the NDAA, which is expected to pass massive legislation during the lame duck period. Consideration of a wide-ranging bill could spark debate and push for amendments on a variety of topics.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has called for legislation to punish OPEC for cuts that would hold foreign oil producers accountable for colluding in pricing — the senator said he believed This 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 violating antitrust laws.

Senate Democrats will also continue to confirm justices for federal judges nominated by President Joe Biden, a key priority for the party.

A Senate vote to protect same-sex marriage is also on the horizon for the lame duck session. In mid-September, as negotiators demanded more time to lock in support, the chamber did not begin voting until after the November midterm elections — a move that could make it more likely that the bill will eventually pass the chamber.

The bipartisan group of senators tasked with crafting the bill said in a statement at the time: “We have asked Leader Schumer for an extension, and we thank him for agreeing. We are confident that when our legislation goes to the Senate for a vote, we will have Bipartisan support to pass the bill.” The bill needs at least 10 Republican votes to overcome the filibuster.

Schumer has vowed to vote on the bill, but an exact date has not been set. Democrats push for vote after Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, raising concerns that the court could target same-sex marriage in the future.

The Senate could pass legislation during the lame duck period in response to a Jan. 6, 2021, attack by a group of pro-Trump supporters who sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Over the summer, a bipartisan group of senators reached a deal that would make it harder to overturn a certified presidential election. However, the proposal still needs to be approved by both chambers. Notably, the Senate proposal has the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

“I strongly support the modest changes that have been fleshed out by our colleagues in the task force after months of detailed discussions,” McConnell said in late September. “I would proudly support this legislation, provided there is a review of its current form. Technical modifications.”

If the bill passes the Senate, it would also need to pass the House of Representatives, which passed its own version of legislation in September by proposing changes to the Election Counting Act to make it harder to overturn certified presidential elections in the future.

Passing a bill restricting lawmakers from trading stocks is a priority for some moderate House Democrats — and they’ll likely continue to push to discuss the issue during the lame-duck period, although it remains to be determined whether there will be a vote and other urgency such as government funding The must-pass items may crowd out this issue. The House of Representatives did not vote on the proposal before the midterm elections.

“As you can imagine, this is a complex issue as a new rule for members they have to follow and I understand their families, so I think it’s worth looking into to make sure we do something, we do it right, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN last month.

At the same time, it is unclear when the country will hit the debt ceiling, and it seems unlikely that Congress will act to address the issue during the lame-duck session, especially with other must-pass bills vying for speaking time. . But the political battle lines have been drawn, and Washington is maneuvering on this contentious, high-stakes issue.

A group of House Democrats recently sent a letter to House Speakers Nancy Pelosi and Schumer calling for legislation to “permanently remove the threat posed by debt restrictions” during the post-election lame-duck session. The letter was spearheaded by the Pennsylvania Rep. Brendan Boyle was signed by several prominent House Democrats, including New York-based caucus chairman Hakeem Jeffries.

Biden offered a window on Friday on how he might prepare for an impending political showdown on the debt ceiling, making it clear that he would not threaten Republican lawmakers that the state would default if he did not meet their demands , but added that he does not support efforts within his own party to remove the debt ceiling altogether.

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