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Thanksgiving is now in hindsight on Capitol Hill.
It’s on its way to Christmas – in more ways than one.
The intense back and forth between moderate and progressive Democrats in adopting the social spending and infrastructure bills that dominated late summer and early fall is behind it all. The record-breaking overnight speech by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., In opposition to the $ 1.75 trillion spending package. Even time with family and friends during the holidays. The green bean stew. Airy mashed potatoes. Stuffing (or dressing, as it is called in the south). The pumpkin and pecan pies. Another loss to the Detroit Lions.
It’s just memories.
Congress is back with a sprint for Christmas – and maybe on.
It’s apparently always like that on Capitol Hill during the holidays. This year is no exception.
There are the things legislators need to tackle. And like most others for the holidays, lawmakers – especially Democrats – have their own wish list.
CONGRESS WILL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS – IF ONLY IN ITS DREAMS
“We always have drama at this time of year because we postpone the big things until now or before Christmas to get them done,” the rep said. Al Green, D-Tex., On Fox. “It requires a compromise. But we’ll probably get there.”
The “must-dos” are as follows.
The Senate “must” approve the annual defense policy bill. It’s on the floor this week. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., believed the Senate could complete it this week. Parliament approved its version of the measure weeks ago. But the Defense Act does not have to be absolutely finished by the end of this week. It could slide if needed.
One thing, Congress shall do this week – or face serious consequences – is to approve a band-aid bill to avert a government shutdown this weekend. The government is funded through 23:59:59 ET Friday.
Congress passed its first “Continuing Resolution” (or “CR,” at Congress) earlier this fall to avert a shutdown. The plan is to approve a short-term bill through Parliament and the Senate this week. Such a bill can run until January or February. Republicans may want the plan to fund the government by March.
The advantage for Democrats, if they approve a preliminary spending proposal, is that the government does not close on their watch. Democrats control the House, Senate and White House. Democrats have hoped – without much success – to contrast their form of government with what many saw as chaos under former President Trump. The Trump administration offered two government stops. It was pulled out for more than a month from the end of 2018 and into the beginning of 2019.
But the downside for Democrats is that CRs are simply renewing all the federal spending at the old level. In other words, the first opportunity President Biden and the Democratic Democrats had to put their primacy on federal spending was October 1st. That was the beginning of the financial year 2022. But since there was no agreement, they simply increased the old funding. Democrats will have to agree to an extension of old programs again this week just to avoid a shutdown.
Democrats essentially leave their spending priorities at the table with a CR. There’s an advantage in that for Republicans. The government is essentially operating on a “Trump budget,” the longer the GOP can pull this off in the new year. It is blocking the Democrats from implementing their own expense bills. This is why some GOPs prefer to stick with a total spending package until March. They may not agree to a short-term extension, as Democrats recommend.
WHY IT TAKES CONGRESS SO LONG TO ACT
Remember that this must be completed by Friday evening.
What a great way to start the holiday season.
Lurking somewhere in the background (as it apparently always does) is a battle over the debt ceiling.
No Republicans in any of the chambers broke with their side to help Democrats approve a $ 480 billion increase in the debt ceiling. But just enough of the Senate Republicans voted yes to a procedural vote to break a filibuster to allow Democrats to walk the plank on their own.
After a football-sprouting speech by Schumer during the recent crisis, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Promised that his side would not help Democrats with the debt limit this time around. But just before Thanksgiving, Schumer and McConnell talked about the problem.
When asked how the parties can settle the debt ceiling knot this time around, McConnell recently sounded more conciliatory.
“We’re figuring out how to avoid default,” McConnell said. “We always do.”
GOP REP. FROGES DEMOCRATS FOR BORDER CRISIS: ‘MANAGEMENT IN CONGRESS MUST CHANGE’
McConnell and other Republicans have long said Democrats should lift the debt ceiling on their own using a special, filibuster-exempt bill known as Reconciliation. Democrats use that type of bill to pass their own social spending package.
Granted, Republicans will do everything they can to blame Democrats for excessive spending. They will point to the party-political $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus bill that Democrats ran through in March with zero assistance from the GOP. Republicans want to incite Democrats to squander the bill on social spending with lots of unnecessary campaign promises.
Politically, this works for the GOP, even though they are responsible for some of the debt. The entire COVID Auxiliary Congress, approved last year, cleared both houses on a bipartisan basis and was signed by President Trump. But Republicans can still condemn Democrats as the party for “tax and spending” with the social spending bill waiting in the background.
The United States lacked a debt ceiling until 1917. The introduction of a statutory debt ceiling as part of the Second Liberty Bond Act was to give Congress some control over how much debt the United States incurred. But with a federal debt squeezing $ 29 trillion, it’s clear that a statutory debt ceiling harness has not worked. It has again converted the periodic debt ceiling to a little more than a dangerous political exercise. Each side tries to score points in relation to their counterparties’ debt each time the debt ceiling appears.
Finance Minister Janet Yellen recently told Congress that lawmakers should aim to raise the debt ceiling by December 15th. But some private estimates believe the federal Treasury Department will remain liquid with cash and be able to pay its bills beyond that – perhaps as long as February.
It is possible that Congress may shake the government’s finance bill and debt ceiling together. But no one is really on the same page.
There was a time not so long ago that Schumer thought the Senate would consider the social spending package in “the week of November 15.”
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Now they will be lucky if they reach it for Christmas.
So the immediate focus is on the Defense Act and avoiding a government shutdown.
For Democrats, the adoption of the bill on social spending before Christmas would be a decoration on the tree.
And with the speed at which things are moving, these may be the only ornaments anyone in Washington sees this year.
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