As we approach the end of the year, a surprising development has hit both chambers of the U.S. Congress: bills are set to pass and bipartisan cooperation is at an Obama administration high. The bills under consideration, as well as those still in the works, cover a variety of legislative areas from education to border security to highway and transportation services. With the House in session every day until December 11th, which is also the deadline for a new Budget agreement, votes there are expected starting on December 8th. The Senate is on a similar schedule. While a certain amount of optimism is warranted given some apparent legislative progress, the Senate’s Calendar is telling of where tensions remain.
On December 3rd, despite the pressing matter of the omnibus spending bill – which was originally expected to be introduced as early as today, the Senate voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and defund Planned Parenthood. Largely viewed as an ideological vote for Republicans to solidify their position on the matter, President Obama has already vowed to veto the legislation. This particular legislative confrontation is now five years in the making and is indicative of the political climate leading up to the anticipated votes this week. Furthermore, it demonstrates just how deeply certain ideological conflicts in Washington run. As such, several of the more contentious bills, chief among them the so-called omnibus spending bill, may actually delay the process beyond December 11th, prompting a possible stopgap funding measure to avoid a government shutdown.
Here is a rundown of key legislation to be considered in each chamber:
- Consolidated Appropriations Act (omnibus): earliest date for possible consideration in the House is Wednesday, December 9th but negotiations are still underway and final votes for the week have yet to be determined (and are contingent on whether or not a stopgap measure is necessary to avoid a shutdown).
- No votes are scheduled for today.
- Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015: earliest date for possible vote is Tuesday, December 8th. Aims to remove allegedly polluting plastic microbeads from over the counter medications. Around 15 bills will be up for consideration on Tuesday.
- Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act of 2015: earliest date for possible consideration is Tuesday, December 8th. Bill would authorize the creation of an independent STB so as to manage railways and freight issues more efficiently.
- Possible votes include: omnibus spending bill, legislation relevant to extending certain provisions of the tax code (related to healthcare), and a final vote on the repeal of the ACA via the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762 – Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015.
- Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015: Earliest date for possible vote is Tuesday, December 8th. Reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and makes notable changes to the 2002 enacted “No Child Left Behind” policy of the Bush administration.
- Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016: Earliest date for possible vote is Tuesday, December 8th. Makes appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.
- Possible votes include: omnibus spending bill and legislation relevant to extending certain healthcare provisions of the tax code.
Regarding the omnibus spending bill, a spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said over the weekend, “We are continuing to negotiate. We expect to have a bill ready for the floor next week.” Some of the more poignant disagreements surrounding the bill include changes to the process of admitting refugees into the country and, to a lesser extent, provisions surrounding the ACA and Planned Parenthood, which Republicans say were addressed by the recent vote in the Senate and upcoming vote in the House. Other issues include a Democrat-led initiative to include gun-control provisions in the bill and a budget argument over indexing inflation for families claiming child-tax credits, a move Republicans oppose without social security verification.
Warwick Group will continue to monitor these bills as they move through the legislative process and provide updates as they come up for votes or a stopgap measure is passed to extend negotiations passed the current December 11th deadline.
For more information, please contact Christian Flinn at firstname.lastname@example.org.