Washington Update - October 10, 2022

Billy Moore    Dc2

The Senate returns to session Tuesday to begin consideration of the Defense authorization bill. The bipartisan leadership expects to introduce a substitute bill and adjourn. Actual debate is scheduled for the week of November 14, the beginning of the Lame Duck session.  

The maximum Lame Duck agenda includes so many items it probably exceeds the number of session days. In addition to the Defense authorization, priority items – mostly bipartisan – include an omnibus spending bill, tax extenders, retirement reforms, Electoral College Act reforms, protections for same-sex marriage, Senator Joe Manchin’s permitting reform proposal, the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s nominees, immigration reforms for Dreamers and agricultural workers, supplemental appropriations for Hurricane Ian rebuilding, the COVID pandemic and monkeypox. There is even talk among some Republicans of a bipartisan increase in the debt limit. 

The breadth of the Lame Duck agenda will mostly depend on Republican leadership attitudes following the November 8 elections. With Republicans expected to seize the House majority, and perhaps the Senate majority as well, they could choose to clear the legislative decks and help pass everything or they could decide to postpone action on most items until they take control on January 3, 2023.

With the national election shaping up as more a choice than a referendum on the incumbent, President Biden’s approval is higher than at any time this year, a few points higher than former President Donald Trump’s current approval. Job growth continues and 3.5 percent is the lowest rate of unemployment in 50 years. The last release on consumer prices before the election is scheduled for Thursday and is expected to show a third month of flat inflation, but annual price growth of 8.3 percent. Gasoline prices began rising last week.

The Federal Reserve, depending more on historic data than forecasts, is expected to continue raising interest rates at its next meeting November 1.