The Senate returns to Washington this week following a month-long recess. The House will return on September 13. There are only 24 days until government funding expires and limited legislative days before the midterm elections.
One of the important legislative items that Congress will address before the midterm elections—the only “must pass” bill—is a stop-gap government funding package known as a continuing resolution (CR), with funding set to expire on September 30 at midnight. There are rumors that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is mulling over plans to attach House-passed same-sex marriage codification to the government funding bill. Many are pointing to the five Republican members (Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Ron Johnson (WI), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), and Thom Tillis (NC)) who have agreed to support same-sex legislation if a vote were to occur as a hopeful sign for possible passage. Even with the support mentioned above, the measure would need five more Republican votes to overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold. It is important to note that 47 House Republicans voted in favor of the same-sex marriage legislation in the House. Another provision that could potentially be attached to the short-term CR is permitting reform, which negotiators agreed to during talks on the Inflation Reduction Act (signed into law on August 16) between Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Majority Leader Schumer. Without the agreement for permitting reform, the $740 billion reconciliation package would likely be for not. Currently, there is no legislative text on permitting changes, but Senator Manchin has mentioned provisions that he would want to be included in the legislation. The continuing resolution will likely extend government funding until mid-December.
The White House has outlined its CR requests to Congress, centering around four main asks. Those four requests include support for Ukraine, COVID-19, Monkeypox, and natural disaster recovery. . For Ukraine, the White House has requested $11.7 billion for security and economic assistance and $2 billion to bolster the domestic energy supply and reduce energy costs. To meet what the release calls “immediate short-term domestic needs” related to COVID-19, including testing and future vaccine development, the White House requested $22.4. The administration also asked for $4.5 billion to fight Monkeypox and additional funds to help communities impacted by natural disasters nationwide. Republicans have alluded to supporting an increase in Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund and aid to Ukraine, but more money for COVID-19 and Monkeypox remain sticking points.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) plans to prioritize consideration of many of the Biden administration’s nominees over the next few weeks, especially those slated for judicial appointments. Senator Durbin intends to raise the number of confirmed judges under the Biden administration from 76 to around 100, including Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, 18 circuit judges, and 57 district court judges to . The opportunity to focus the Senate’s attention on nominations comes after the passage of several significant legislative items, clearing the Senate floor schedule to consider nominees. The Majority Leader will also consider bringing the bipartisan $857.5 Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act to the floor before the midterm election.
For the remainder of the week, the House and Senate will hold several hearings, including a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing on multiple bills regarding environmental air quality, and a Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing for “U.S. Circuit and District Court Judges.” The House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a field hearing on “Power in the Pacific: Unlocking Offshore Wind Energy for the American West.” Separately, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) will miss votes as he recovers from hip replacement surgery. Today, Massachusetts will hold its primary elections, with all nine Democrat incumbents running unopposed.