Washington Update - December 11, 2023

Billy Moore    Dc2

The House of Representatives is scheduled to adjourn for the year on Friday, pending Senate action on a supplemental appropriations bill for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and the border. Senators continue to discuss Republican demands for immigration reforms that would earn their support for the package, although the outlook is not encouraging.

Without the spending package, the forecast for Ukraine’s war to repel Russian invaders is poor as troops ration ammunition, impeding their ability to repulse Russian attacks. The immediate impact on Israel’s war on Hamas is less drastic.

Should the spending legislation not advance this week, the Congress will post a bleak record of accomplishment: merely 22 public laws have been enacted this year (compared to 121 in 2021), half of which related to veterans programs, extended current spending or avoided a default. 

This week, the Senate will pass the bipartisan Defense Authorization and hopes to pass a temporary extension of aviation programs. The House will pass several message bills, the aviation and Defense legislation, and a resolution authorizing committee impeachment investigations of President Joe Biden. The House may debate reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Demonstrating again the weakness of the House majority and its difficulty passing rules to facilitate passing bills, most of the week’s agenda – including the Defense and aviation proposals – will proceed under suspension of the House Rules, meaning they will require the support of most Democrats to overcome the opposition of a few conservative Republicans.

No progress was made last week on a compromise topline spending number for 2024 appropriations. The impasse imperils House and Senate negotiators’ ability to reach bipartisan compromises on spending bills that are due January 19 and February 2, 2024.

When the House returns in January, it will have one less Republican as former Speaker Kevin McCarthy will retire December 31.