Weekly Legislative Update
January 11, 2021
Congressional Outlook
The Senate is in recess this week while the House will be in session. On Tuesday evening, the House will vote on a resolution which calls on Vice President Mike Pence “to convene and mobilize the principal officers of the executive departments of the Cabinet to activate section 4 of the 25th Amendment to declare President Donald J. Trump incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting President.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on Sunday that “We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours” of the resolution passing. On Wednesday, the House will then vote on one article of impeachment against President Trump, charging him with “Incitement of Insurrection” regarding his involvement with the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol Building as Congress met to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly has 218 votes in support of the article of impeachment, ensuring passage.

If the House were to pass the article of impeachment, it would be up to Speaker Pelosi’s discretion as to when it formally gets sent to the Senate. Once that occurs, an impeachment trial in the upper chamber would occur immediately. The next time the Senate returns to Washington for a regular session is 12pm on Tuesday, January 19, the day before President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn into office. On Monday afternoon, President-elect Biden said that he hoped the Senate would “bifurcate” its work so that an impeachment trial of President Trump does not interfere with confirming his Cabinet nominees or passing a COVID relief package. If the Senate impeachment trial begins next Tuesday, it could stretch for several weeks, potentially ending in early February.

With last Tuesday’s election victories in Georgia for Senators-elect Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA), the Senate Democratic Caucus will increase to 50 members as early as next week, giving Democrats the majority in the Senate for the first time since 2014 (with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote). This also means that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is poised to become the new Senate Majority Leader, controlling the legislative agenda for the next two years alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). House and Senate committees will continue to formally organize themselves over the next several weeks, including the adoption of their rules and procedures. Committee assignments for rank-and-file members in the House and Senate will continue to be made, and the Chair and Ranking Member positions for Senate Committees will formally be adopted. Big-ticket items over the next several months that Congress will likely consider include another COVID relief bill and some type of infrastructure package.

On Thursday, President-elect Biden will offer details of his first COVID-19 relief proposal with a price tag likely “in the trillions of dollars.” At a press conference last week, he ticked off a list of standbys from previous aid proposals that he would like to be included in the legislation, including increasing the recently enacted $600 rebate checks to $2,000 per person; expanding unemployment benefits; rental assistance; aid to states, localities and tribal governments, including for school systems, police and fire departments; and money for vaccine distribution.
Week in Review