Congress returns to try to avoid a partial government shutdown. Here is his list of things to do

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has set a Christmas deadline for passage of the roughly $ 2 trillion spending bill that includes the bulk of the president’s agenda Biden.

Countess Jemal / Getty Images for SEIU

Lawmakers return to Washington, DC, with a familiar year-end agenda – a bunch of important bills and little time to act.

The most immediate problem is to avoid a partial government shutdown at the end of the week, but they must also grapple with the country’s borrowing power and the annual defense policy bill.

Democrats have also set Christmas as their deadline to pass the roughly $ 2 trillion domestic spending bill that includes climate, health care, and child care programs. This massive bill is the second piece of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. (The $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill was signed earlier this month and Biden began an effort to praise its worth to communities across the country.)

Congress is supposed to begin its winter recess on December 11, but with everything on its plate, most people expect both chambers to stay on Capitol Hill longer this year.

Here is an overview of the Congress to-do list:

Government funding

Federal agencies run out of cash at midnight on Friday. No deal seems close at hand on the dozens of spending bills that fund the federal government. Instead, lawmakers are scrambling to push the boundaries for a while. The Republican and Democratic appropriators draft a bill for interim financing, called a standing resolution, which extends current spending levels. But House and Senate committees did not agree on how long a bill would last in the short term.

A source familiar with the talks told NPR that negotiators have gathered around a CR that will come in late January or potentially February so the two chambers can have more time to reach agreement on the bills. annual funding.

Debt limit

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen informed Congress earlier this month that they had until December 15 increase the country’s borrowing limit or risk defaulting on the country’s bills. The issue sparked a partisan deadlock earlier this fall, but ultimately Senatorial Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., agreed to an agreement who avoided a fault for weeks. He and Senate Majority Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., have held discussions on the matter, but there is no clear path to resolve the issue.

Republicans again urge Democrats to pair a debt limit increase with a budget reconciliation plan and pass it on their own, as they can approve a bill using rules that avoid GOP obstruction . But many Democrats are against it and say it might be difficult to finish this bill on time.

“If Republicans want to bash us and raise people’s interest rates and make it hard to pay for cars, go ahead and stand up for this cause. We’re going to stop them from doing that,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, D- Minn., Said on ABC’s This week on Sunday.

The deadline for having to act may be pushed back to early next year, depending on treasury revenues, but leaders say they plan to act in December.

Defense authorization bill

Congress has approved the annual political bill for nearly 60 years. As usual, the House and the Senate are working on different versions. This year’s bill includes reforms to the system for prosecuting allegations of sexual assault in the military, increasing the salaries of military personnel and women, and measures to increase military support for Ukraine in the face of a new threat from Russia. It may take months to negotiate a final deal between the two chambers, and the chairmen of the House and Senate armed services panels have urged leaders to make it a priority. The House approved his version and the Senate is expected to vote on his bill this week.

Rebuild a better expense bill

After Passing home of the approximately $ 2 trillion package Several Senate Democrats last week indicated they wanted to see changes.

Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., opposes the four weeks of paid family leave in the House bill, so that should be deleted. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Wants to expand Medicare coverage to include vision and dental benefits. Immigration provisions that would provide work permits to those who have entered the country since January 2011 and prevent them from being deported is being reviewed by the Senate parliamentarian to see if the changes to the law meet the limits of what can be included in a budget reconciliation package. Democrats are using the reconciliation process to get around a Republican obstruction.

There is also an ongoing debate over a tax deduction for states with high local and state property taxes. Some Democrats, including Sanders, warn that the way House structured the deduction could end up giving many wealthy Americans significant tax relief and defeat campaign promises to make the wealthy pay their fair share.

Schumer set a Christmas schedule to complete the bill and send it to the president, but if the Senate amends the bill, as expected, the House will have to vote on it again. Democrats fear it will become more difficult to pass if the debate spills over into 2022, an election year. They want to carry out actions on the National Expenditure Bill which includes climate, health care, child care programs so they can campaign on these policies and the infrastructure bill the president signed recently.

An unknown factor as members of the House and Senate return to Washington – news of a new variant of the coronavirus. Biden met members of its COVID working group on Sunday and urges those who have not been vaccinated to be vaccinated and those who are eligible to receive a booster.

Over the summer, the administration came under criticism for not acting quickly enough to tackle the spread of the delta variant. There is no indication so far that the omicron variant will be more transmissible or cause severe symptoms, but lawmakers are concerned to continue to fight the pandemic and any potential economic impact.

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