Adding to the already massive to-do list, President Joe Biden on Monday asked Congress to intervene in the potential railroad strike, while Pelosi said the House would take a crucial vote this week to stave off the ‘stop.
Negotiations on a government funding package, needed to avoid a December 16 shutdown, have progressed extremely slowly. There is still no agreement among key lawmakers even on overall funding levels, which would allow them to dig into the details of the more than $1.5 trillion spending package. Without a deal, Congress could pass a short-term funding fix, buy more time for talks, or a longer-term interim spending bill that would cripple federal agencies with stagnant budgets through most of 2023. .
Schumer said “you’ll see afterwards” what he hopes to get out of the meeting. McConnell said as he left Tuesday morning that he hoped “to have a good discussion about how to end the year.” He declined to disclose whether he would push for a short-term spending bill or a bigger deal: “I’ll let you know.”
The Biden administration has already requested nearly $38 billion in additional aid from Ukraine and $10 billion in emergency health funding, of which $9 billion would go to meet current and long-term needs. of Covid-19. The White House plans to request additional disaster relief to deal with hurricanes and wildfires this year as well.
The package with adjusted spending levels, if materialized, would likely be laden with a host of political provisions, as it is one of the last major pieces of legislation likely to be passed before the start of the next Congress in January. Another must-have item on the Congressional agenda includes a massive annual defense policy package, which is also expected to be laden with so-called policy riders.
Additionally, congressional leaders have debated whether to raise the debt ceiling over the next two months in hopes of avoiding a high-stakes showdown with Republicans in 2023. Such action, which could absorbing a lot of energy and floor time in the Senate backlog, however, seems increasingly unlikely. The Treasury Department is not expected to hit its borrowing limit until next year.
Senate Democrats and Republicans also hope to complete a bill to amend the Voter Count Act, an age-old law governing election certification, before House Republicans win a majority. These lawmakers hope to prevent another Jan. 6-style insurrection by increasing the threshold of members needed to oppose the results of the presidential election and clarifying that the power of the vice president is ceremonial.
This legislation could be attached to the spending bill or stand alone, although that would take up more valuable Senate time.
And that’s not even counting some long-term items on Democrats’ priority list, including immigration reform legislation and a host of tax provisions, like an extension of the enhanced child tax credit.