The Washington Post provides a list of things the Congress has on their plate to tangle with in the next week or two before they recess AGAIN for the Holidays…
They will NOT take care of all of the outstanding things….They NEVER do….But this sesion of Congress has produced little if anything in major legislation….
The deadlines that are printed in the media are always flexible and the lawmakers know that….
THE BIG IDEA: December is going to be a wild month on Capitol Hill. As lawmakers return today from Thanksgiving, they’ve got so much on their plates that many are holding off on making Christmas plans.
Republicans are pushing for the biggest overhaul of the tax code in three decades in the same bill that they’re trying to knock down a core pillar underpinning Obamacare, and they expect to do it with no Democratic votes. But they’ll need support from the other side of the aisle to avoid a government shutdown on Dec. 8, and the minority leaders are determined to get concessions — perhaps on immigration.
By the end of 2017, a year that will be remembered for a surprising lack of legislative results despite unified GOP control of government, Congress also needs to find a compromise to reauthorize the law that allows for foreign intelligence surveillance on U.S. soil.
Meanwhile, the dark clouds from cascading sexual harassment scandals hang over the Hill and everyone is wondering who will be the next to get exposed. A special election in Alabama on Dec. 12 could narrow the GOP’s already small margin for error in the Senate.
Here’s a brief rundown of what to watch on the Hill in the weeks ahead:
1. Keeping the lights on: “Both sides have floated the possibility of a short-term stopgap to push negotiations (from Dec. 8) until just before Christmas. But informal talks have been abortive,” Mike DeBonis and Ed O’Keefe report. “The first step toward a resolution will be reaching an agreement on government spending levels for 2018 and perhaps beyond, lifting caps imposed under a bipartisan 2011 budget deal. … Under current law, Congress may appropriate no more than $549 billion for defense programs and $516 billion for nondefense programs next year, a cut from current levels. But the Trump administration and defense hawks want to boost defense spending to more than $600 billion, and Democrats are demanding a dollar-for-dollar increase in nondefense spending.
“Talks before the Thanksgiving holiday focused on raising spending levels somewhere between $180 billion and $200 billion over the next two fiscal years combined but went nowhere … Aides from both parties warned that if a spending accord is not reached this week, hopes for the passage of a broad appropriations bill before Christmas would be dim.”
2. The House and Senate must reconcile their tax plans.
Senate Republicans are seriously considering several last-minute changes to their tax bill to win over reluctant lawmakers ahead of critical votes planned for this week.“The lawmakers attracting the most concern from leadership and the White House are Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who say the current version of the bill favors corporations over other businesses,” Damian Paletta reports. “There are numerous members demanding changes, and their needs don’t all overlap. Together, the requests put Republican leaders in a difficult position, as they attempt to accommodate individual holdouts on a one-off basis without losing other members or creating a situation in which the bill collapses under the weight of disparate demands. At least six GOP members have raised concerns about specific provisions in the GOP tax bill, though none has flatly said they plan to vote against it this week. Johnson came closest, saying he opposed the measure but later suggesting he could support it with changes.”….