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Legislative Update

Congress. Both the House and Senate are in recess until Nov. 14, having passed a continuing resolution that will fund the government through Dec. 16. Passage of the CR marks the 26th consecutive year that Congress has not passed all of the appropriations bills by the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year. Since the enactment of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act, Congress has managed to pass all its required appropriations measures on time only four times: in fiscal 1977 (the first full fiscal year under the current system), 1989, 1995 and 1997, according to the Pew Research Center.

Lame Duck Session. When lawmakers reconvene after the elections, they will have to decide whether to pass an omnibus FY 2023 appropriations bill that includes all 12 spending measures (and various earmark provisions) or another CR that runs until early 2023. There will also be a renewed push by Democratic leadership and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to pass the Senator’s proposal to expedite the federal permitting process for energy infrastructure projects. Proponents of the permitting reform proposal are said to be eyeing not only a year-end appropriations measure as a vehicle but also the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will be the first order of business on the Senate floor in November.

While the CR provided a five-year reauthorization of FDA user fee programs, it did not include other provisions that House and Senate negotiators were working on, such as FDA policy reforms and proposals dealing with pandemic preparedness. If an agreement can be hammered out, those provisions could get a ride on the year-end appropriations bill. Other potential issues on the Congressional agenda include legislation to extend various tax breaks that have expired or will expire at the end of the year as well as retirement reform proposals that have been cleared by the full House (SECURE 2.0) and the Senate Finance Committee (the EARN bill).

House Scorecard. The Democratic majority in the House will be even slimmer in the lame duck session. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) resigned on Sept. 30 to become CEO of the American Jewish Committee. Deutch’s resignation puts the House count at 220 Democrats/212 Republicans with three vacancies. One of those vacancies, the seat of the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), will be filled by a special election on Nov. 8, with the winner serving the remainder of Rep. Walorski’s term until Jan. 3. The seat is expected to remain in Republican hands. The seats left vacant by the resignations of Reps. Deutch and Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) will not be filled until the winners of the Nov. 8 general election races are sworn in on Jan. 3.

Mark Your Calendar:

  • Nov. 8 – Election Day
  • Nov. 14 – House and Senate reconvene
  • Dec. 6 – Runoff in Georgia Senate race if no candidate gets a majority of the vote
  • Dec. 15 – Target adjournment date for House
  • Dec. 16 – CR expires
  • Dec. 21 – Scheduled adjournment date for Senate
  • Jan. 3 – Start of the 118th Congress

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