Senate. Two Senators who have been absent for health reasons are returning this week, while a third will continue to recover at home. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Senator John Fetterman (D-Pa.) will be back in Washington, while Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will be at her home in California. Senator Feinstein has asked Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve [on the Judiciary Committee] until I’m able to resume my committee work.” Schumer will bring a resolution to the floor to name a replacement. It appears that there will be Republican objections to moving the resolution by unanimous consent, forcing Schumer to see if he can round up 60 votes for approval. The Senate will also continue to consider nominations and on Wednesday at 3 p.m., Senators will have a classified briefing on the Pentagon documents that were leaked.
House. Among the items on the House agenda this week are a bill that would ban transgender women and girls from competing on female school sports teams and a resolution to disapprove a District of Columbia law overhauling police practices. The White House said today that President Biden would veto both measures if they reached his desk. The House this week could also vote on overriding President Biden’s veto of a resolution to reverse the Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The override effort, however, is expected to fall short of the two-thirds majority needed.
Debt Limit. In a speech today, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pledged that the House will vote “in the coming weeks” on a bill that would “lift the debt ceiling into next year,” reportedly until May 2024. According to McCarthy, the spending cuts in the debt limit package would return “the federal government to 2022 spending levels—and then limit… the growth of spending over the next 10 years to 1% annual growth.” McCarthy did not provide details, but there has been speculation that the proposed discretionary spending cuts would not apply to defense and veterans programs.
Other components of the Republican package would “claw back tens of billions of dollars in unspent COVID-related money,” strengthen work requirements for government programs aiding low-income Americans, include most provisions from the House-passed energy and permitting reform legislation (H.R. 1), and include the REINS Act, which would require that major rules from federal agencies be approved by Congress.
Details of the package are still being hammered out, and if the Speaker is able to pass the measure in the House, he intends to use it as a starting point in debt limit negotiations with the White House and Congressional Democrats.
Farm Bill. It’s been five years since Congress last passed a farm bill – a package of agriculture, nutrition, conservation and forestry programs – and the 2018 reauthorization of those programs is scheduled to expire Sept. 30. House and Senate Agriculture Committees have been laying the groundwork for months on a new farm bill, and activity will pick up this week as Senate Agriculture subcommittees hold the first two of five hearings scheduled over the next three weeks. Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) would like her committee to mark up a bill shortly before or immediately after the August recess.
Whether Congress can approve legislation before Sept. 30 is debatable, with the biggest hurdle to consensus being partisan differences over food assistance programs. The majority of all farm bill spending is for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, which has been authorized in the farm bill since 1973. A number of House Republicans are pushing to strengthen the work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries, and House Speaker McCarthy intends to include language strengthening work requirements for anti-poverty programs as part of his debt limit proposal.
Democrats oppose the new work requirement proposal, and it is unclear how and when the issue will be resolved. If agreement cannot be reached by Sept. 30, lawmakers are expected to pass a short-term extension of current programs.
Committee Action of Note
Monday, April 17
Tuesday, April 18
Wednesday, April 19
Thursday, April 20
With negotiators working to hammer out a debt ceiling deal that addresses discretionary spending levels, the House Appropriations Committee is moving forward with action this week on four FY 2024 spending bills.Read More
Debt limit talks continue to be the priority for President Biden and Congressional leaders, but timing and the outcome itself remain murky.Read More
Enacting debt ceiling legislation this month will be hard to accomplish given the substantive differences between the two parties as well as the presidential and congressional schedules.Read More