Legislative / Policy Update
House Floor. The House has no floor votes scheduled this week, and most Members have returned to their districts. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has advised Members they should be ready to return within 24 hours if a vote is scheduled on a coronavirus deal.
Before leaving last Friday, the House approved a minibus with six FY 2021 appropriations bills. The original plan was to vote on seven bills, but Democratic leaders decided to drop the Homeland Security bill after pushback from moderate Democrats who thought the immigration enforcement provisions were too strong and progressives who felt the provisions didn’t go far enough. With Congress unlikely to give final approval to any appropriations bills before the election (other than a continuing resolution to provide funding after Sept. 30), many Members saw no need to take a vote on provisions they were uncomfortable with. The House has now passed 10 of the 12 spending bills, failing to vote only on Homeland Security and Legislative Branch.
Senate Floor. The Senate this week will take up more nominations, including that of Mark Menezes to be Deputy Secretary of Energy. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also laid the groundwork to take votes on a proposal that would extend the bonus unemployment payments at a level lower than the $600-per-week that expired July 31, possibly at $200 per week. Democrats will oppose McConnell’s effort, arguing that a comprehensive agreement should be negotiated, rather than temporary, piecemeal proposals.
Meanwhile, negotiations are continuing on a comprehensive package, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows meeting this afternoon for two and a half hours. Negotiations will continue Tuesday.
Committee Action of Note:
Elections. Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington will hold primaries on Tuesday. In Missouri, Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay is facing a challenge from his left by Cori Bush, whom he handily beat two years ago. Bush is better funded and more organized this time around, but Clay's team is confident he will prevail. In Michigan, Democratic Rep. Rashida Talib is also facing a primary from her 2018 opponent, Brenda Jones. Jones won the special election in early 2018 to replace retiring Rep. John Conyers, but Talib prevailed over Jones just a couple months later in the primary so this rematch is expected to be close.
In Kansas, Republicans will choose their candidate to replace Senator Pat Roberts, a race that Democrats are now targeting as a potential flip opportunity. Two Republican candidates – Rep. Roger Marshall and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach – are in a dead heat. National Republicans are concerned that Kobach’s hardline conservative views and extremely low favorability would force the GOP to dump millions in a race once considered a safe Republican seat. The DSCC-backed candidate, Barbara Bollier, is facing only nominal opposition on Tuesday and has proven to be a prolific fundraiser with $4 million currently in the bank.
Also in Kansas, Republican Rep. Steve Watkins is reported to be in danger after being charged last month with various counts related to voter fraud. Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner and Dennis Taylor, former secretary of the state's Department of Administration, are running against Watkins in the primary. Democrats see the district as a potential pickup. If the races in Kansas prove to be too close to call, a final decision may have to wait until absentee ballots are included. Absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day and received by 5 p.m. on Friday will count.