Congress returns to Washington, D.C., with 11 days to pass a fiscal year 2023 federal spending bill, as the current bill expires on December 16. Also on the docket is the must-pass annual defense authorization bill.
Federal government spending is the hot topic of discussion for lawmakers, and topline spending numbers were the center of this weekend’s continued negotiations. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was hoping for a deal by today. However, there is speculation that a deal will not be made before Wednesday. Negotiations center specifically around non-defense spending, where Republicans hope to keep additional funding down after they argue social programs received significant funding through the Inflation Reduction Act. The topline numbers are critical to unlocking the rest of the process. An agreement allows appropriators to finalize the 12 annual spending bills. A week-long continuing resolution (CR) is expected to be passed by the December 16 deadline, keeping the federal government open through December 23. However, there is speculation that the funding dilemma could wage until December 30 or New Year’s Eve. All told, time is running out for an omnibus package, and failure to reach a compromise could result in a full-year CR at fiscal year 2022 funding levels. Note, earmarks would not be included in a long-term CR. Tax extenders have entered the conversation as a potential omnibus policy rider, which could feature the expanded Child Tax Credit. Like everything else, inclusion is uncertain.
Lawmakers will release the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (HR 7776) sometime today. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, confirmed the bill’s release on Saturday after the House and Senate settled on $858 billion for defense spending. That is $45 billion higher than requested by the Biden Administration. One item conservatives want to add to the NDAA is a provision that would end the Defense Department’s Covid vaccine mandate. Also, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is making a last-ditch effort to include permitting reform in the NDAA, which would speed up approval of clean energy, pipeline, and electricity transmission projects.
The House will consider 12 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Senate-passed Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act of 2022 (S 3875), which would maintain a natural disaster hazard assessment program that develops and maintains publicly available products to show the risk of natural hazards across the United States. The House will also vote on the Senate-passed Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act (S 1617), which would authorize the Small Business Administration (SBA) to declare a disaster in rural areas impacted by significant damage and provide certain assistance.
After the Senate passed same-sex marriage legislation, the House will vote on the measure this week, sending it to the President for signature.
Senate Democrats will hold leadership elections on Thursday, in a largely ceremonial fashion, as no returning members face a challenge. Nominated President Pro Tempore Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is expected to receive unanimous support.
Various House and Senate committees will hold hearings this week, including a Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee hearing on “Farm Bill 2023: Research Programs,” and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing on “Building Regional Innovation Economies Part II.”
On Tuesday, the Georgia Senate Runoff will conclude in the race between incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker