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Congressional Update

Senate. The Senate this week is expected to pass its version of legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages. After passage, the measure will go back to the House for final approval.

House. The House this week will vote on two bills dealing with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals as well as 19 bills under suspension of the rules.

House Leadership. On Wednesday, House Democrats will begin two days of leadership elections for the next Congress. There is no suspense for the top four positions, where Democrats will choose Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) as Minority Leader, Katherine Clark (Mass.) as Minority Whip, Pete Aguilar (Calif.) as Caucus Chair, and Jim Clyburn (S.C.) as Assistant Leader. Outgoing Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) intends to return to the Appropriations Committee and will seek the ranking member post on the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, the same position he held 20 years ago.

Republicans met before Thanksgiving to choose their leaders, nominating Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) for Speaker and selecting Reps. Steve Scalise (La.) as Majority Leader, Tom Emmer (Minn.) as Majority Whip, and Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) as GOP Conference Chair. The full House will vote Jan. 3 to elect its Speaker, with a new Speaker needing to win the support of a majority of members voting. Both parties this week will consider changes to their internal conference rules. Of note will be Republican consideration on Wednesday of a proposal to ban earmarks in appropriations bills.

Senate Leadership. Senate Democrats plan to meet Dec. 8 to choose their leadership team. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) will remain in the top two positions, but there is expected to be some shuffling of other positions. Schumer said he intends to nominate Senator Patty Murray (Wash.) as president pro tempore, the position now held by retiring Senator Patrick Leahy (Vt.). Murray is currently Assistant Leader, the #3 position in Democratic leadership. Schumer is proposing to eliminate the Assistant Leader position and instead elevate Policy and Communications Chair Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) to the #3 position. Steering and Outreach Chair Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) would then serve in the #4 slot.

On Tuesday, Democrats will meet to discuss various changes to their internal rules, with votes set for the following day. Among the proposed changes is one by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) that would prevent, beginning in 2025, those Democrats who hold top leadership positions from also serving as committee chairs. Durbin, Stabenow, and Klobuchar currently chair the Judiciary, Agriculture, and Rules Committees, respectively.

As for the GOP leadership posts, those were decided on Nov. 16. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) easily beat back a challenge from Senator Rick Scott (Fla.), 37-10, to secure a ninth term leading Senate Republicans. Also staying in their leadership roles will be Minority Whip John Thune (S.D.) and Conference Chair John Barrasso (Wyo.). Senator Joni Ernst (Iowa) was elected to replace retiring Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) as head of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) was elected to replace Ernst as vice chairwoman of the Senate GOP conference. Senator Steve Daines (Mont.) was elected to serve as the next chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Committee Action of Note

  • Tuesday, November 29
    • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Markup to consider nominations to TVA, EPA, and DOT
    • Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing to consider nominations
    • Senate Judiciary Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights Subcommittee Hearing: “Examining the Competitive Impact of the Proposed Kroger-Albertsons Transaction”
  • Wednesday, November 30
    • Senate Banking Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing to consider nominations
    • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing: “Putting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Work: The Private Sector Perspective”
  • Thursday, December 1
    • Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing: “Fairness in Financial Services: Racism and Discrimination in Banking”
    • Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Hearing: “Why Congress Needs to Act: Lessons Learned from the FTX Collapse”
    • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing to consider pending legislation

Political Update

House Races. Two races have not yet been called. In Colorado’s 3rd District, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert edged Democrat Adam Frisch by 554 votes and Frisch has conceded, but an automatic recount is underway. In California’s 13th District, Republican John Duarte leads Democrat Adam Gray by 593 votes. If those margins hold in both races, the party split in the House would be 222R-213D.

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