Senate. The Senate this week will continue to consider nominations. “In the coming days,” there will be an all-Senators classified briefing on the situation in Ukraine, according to a Dear Colleague letter from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer said he plans to bring the President’s national security funding package, which includes aid for Ukraine and Israel, to the floor “as soon as the week of December 4th.” It remains to be seen whether the package will include changes to U.S. border policy. One option being discussed by a bipartisan group of Senators would reportedly tighten the initial standard immigrants must meet when applying for asylum.
House. The House has a number of bills on its schedule, including a proposal that would ban migrant housing on federal lands, but what is more notable is what is not on the agenda. There are no appropriations bills scheduled for action. The House has passed seven of the 12 FY 2024 appropriations bills, but for various reasons the Republican leadership has not been able to muster necessary party support to clear five bills – Transportation/HUD, Agriculture/FDA, Commerce/Justice/Science, Labor/HHS/Education, and Financial Services/General Government.
Republicans added a seat to their numbers with the Nov. 21 special election in Utah, but there’s a chance they could lose one of their members this week. In the special election, Celeste Maloy, a former staffer for Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), won the race to fill his seat after Stewart resigned in September. Maloy will be sworn in this week, bringing the House to full membership with 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats. However, it’s possible that the House could vote this week on a resolution to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.). A two-thirds majority vote is needed for expulsion.
There will be two more vacancies early next year – one from each party. On February 5, Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins of New York will become the new president and CEO at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. His upcoming resignation will open up a seat on the Ways and Means Committee that is expected to be filled by Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.). Gomez had to give up his seat on the panel at the start of this Congress when party control switched from Democratic to Republican, reducing the number of Democratic slots on all committees. On Nov. 20, Republican Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio announced he will become the new president of Youngstown State University. While Johnson did not announce a date for his resignation from Congress, he must start his new job by March 15.
Looking Ahead. The House and Senate are looking to adjourn for the year on Dec. 14 and 15, respectively, and have a full list of must-do measures on the agenda, including reauthorizations of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs. Key lawmakers from the House and Senate have been negotiating for weeks on a compromise version of the NDAA bill and will formally convene conference committee deliberations this week. As for FAA programs, the House passed a five-year reauthorization bill in July, but the Senate has not yet taken up its version as action in the Commerce Committee has been hung up over pilot training rules. The Continuing Resolution (CR) enacted Sept. 30 provided a three-month extension, through Dec. 31, for FAA programs.
The second CR, which was enacted Nov. 16, extended government funding in two tranches. Funding is extended through Jan. 19 for four bills – Transportation/HUD, Energy and Water, Military Construction/VA, and Agriculture/FDA. Funding covered by the eight other bills is extended through Feb. 2. Both the House and Senate would like to approve their versions of all 12 appropriations bills before leaving in December but are taking slightly different approaches. The House is trying to pass the bills one by one on mostly party-line votes, but internal GOP differences have prevented floor action on five of the bills. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved all 12 bills with bipartisan support and is taking the measures to the floor as minibus packages. Thus far, the Senate has passed one minibus that packaged three spending bills for Agriculture/FDA, Military Construction/Veterans Affairs, and Transportation/Housing and Urban Development. Because of limited floor time between now and mid-December, one option being discussed is grouping the remaining nine bills together for full Senate consideration.
Looking even further ahead, the Senate has released its tentative calendar for 2024.
Committee Action of Note
Tuesday, November 28
Wednesday, November 29
Thursday, November 30