Congress is back in session this week, with the House returning today and the Senate returning on Tuesday.
The House of Representatives has had no Speaker for 20 days, leaving the body paralyzed to act. There are currently nine Speaker candidates: House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (Minn.), House Republican Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson (La.), House Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern (Okla.), Reps. Byron Donalds (Fla.), Austin Scott (Ga.), Jack Bergman (Mich.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Gary Palmer (Ala.), and Dan Meuser (Pa.). Tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET, the 224 current members of the House Republican Conference (including the GOP Delegates from Guam and American Samoa and the GOP Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico) will host an internal candidate forum. House Republicans will use ranked-choice voting on Tuesday morning to select their new Speaker nominee, following the failed Speaker bids of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (La.) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (Ohio) over the past two weeks. The third iteration of voting on the House floor, where the nominee will need receive 217 votes to be elected Speaker, will begin as early as Tuesday evening. Chair Jordan (Ohio) lost his designation as the GOP nominee for Speaker on Friday after losing a secret ballot by a vote of 86-112 following three failed votes on the House floor over the course of four days last week. House Majority Whip Emmer is viewed by many observers as the frontrunner for the nomination.
The Senate will begin working this week on the Biden Administration’s $106 billion request for an emergency supplemental funding package, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The upper chamber will work to vote on a package including aid for Ukraine ($61.4 billion), Israel ($14.3 billion), border security ($13.6 billion), and humanitarian purposes ($9.15 billion). Including the aid in one package would be the most efficient legislative avenue, however, Democrats will face pushback from Senate Republicans who want to vote on several of the items separately. Added to the issue of how to resolve the supplemental request is that the House is currently without a Speaker, an issue with no end in sight. House Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) said that House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-Texas) is working on a package for military aid for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and border security. Additionally, the Senate will continue considering the three-bill FY 2024 appropriations “minibus” package (Agriculture, Military Construction – Veterans Affairs, and Transportation – Housing and Urban Development spending bills), which the upper chamber began consideration of on September 12. Lawmakers have one remaining issue to resolve before moving forward with the minibus. Senate Appropriations Committee Vice-Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) expects the Senate to resolve the issue (which she declined to name) by this week and then hold a final vote on the minibus package.
If a new Speaker of the House is elected this week, the House will consider five suspension bills, including the Modernizing the Acquisition of Cybersecurity Experts Act of 2023 (H.R. 4502), allowing Federal agencies to establish educational requirements for certain cybersecurity positions in the competitive service. The House will also likely vote on two FY 2024 Appropriations bills, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act (H.R. 4364) and the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act (H.R. 4394). The Senate will vote on the nominations of Michael Whitaker to be Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and Jessica Looman to be an Administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
For the remainder of the week, the Senate will hold several hearings, including a Budget Committee hearing on “Bottlenecks and Backlogs: How Climate Change Threatens Supply Chains;” and a Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on “VA Accountability and Transparency: A Cornerstone of Quality Care and Benefits for Veterans.” The House will hold a House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment hearing on “Water Resources Development Acts: Status of Past Provisions and Future Needs.”