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Legislative Update - December 19, 2023

After finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress will pivot fully to the last legislative item of the 117th Congress, an omnibus funding package. 

The deadline for passing a spending package is Friday, December 23 (after President Biden signed a week-long continuing resolution) giving Congress just five days to work through questions about what policy riders to include, tricky timing, and various procedural votes. House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) expressed her confidence in passing an omnibus package while noting she “can’t account for crazy things.” After reaching a deal on the elusive topline funding numbers, Congress agreed to the $1.7 trillion figure to fund the dozen appropriations bills. Over the weekend, staffers from various subcommittees and leadership offices worked to pull together the legislative text for the 1,000-plus page bill to fund the federal government through September 2023. 

Here is how we expect the process on the omnibus to play out. The Senate will take up the bill first, with an unveiling of the text expected Monday afternoon. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will file cloture (ending debate), setting up a procedural vote on Wednesday. Once the Senate passes the bill, the House can move in short order to pass it. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has a slim two-vote majority to work with, but many assume House Republicans will join in passing a bipartisan spending package. Which policy riders Congress will include in the omnibus is unclear. President Joe Biden wants $37 billion in additional economic and military aid for Ukraine. The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act of 2022 (S. 4573), a bill revising the process of casting and counting electoral votes for presidential elections and provisions for the presidential transition process, will be inserted into the bill. Other outstanding issues include tax extenders and provisions to avoid cuts to Medicare spending for providers.

After passing the omnibus spending bill, Congress will go on recess until January 3, 2023. We will begin reporting on the 118th Congress and what to expect early in the new year. Key items to be reported on are the legislative agenda for the 118th Congress, Rep Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) battle for Speaker of the House, the state of Congressional earmarks, and more.