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Congress returns this week for a pivotal work period with multiple deadlines, a busy schedule for an institution that tends to wait until the very last minute to get things done.
House lawmakers will spend the next four legislative days laying the groundwork on crucial pieces of legislation for the rest of the month, negotiating terms and conditions among themselves and with their counterparts across the aisle and Rotunda.
House Democratic leadership braced Thursday for at least 60 defections on the Republican bill to strengthen the vetting of Syrian refugees seeking resettlement in the United States.
It wasn’t quite that high, but 47 Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with nearly every Republican for Congress’ first legislative response to the terrorist attacks in Paris — despite a veto threat from President Barack Obama. The coalition of Democrats supporting the measure, which passed 289-137, wasn’t atypical of previous votes for which leadership could not justify opposition. Full story
There could be little President Barack Obama can do to find common ground with Paul D. Ryan, given their deep ideological differences and House conservatives’ inevitable demands for the speaker-in-waiting.
With Ryan’s announcement that he will seek the speakership, all eyes now turn to the Wisconsin Republican’s ability to manage his fractious caucus and find just enough common ground with a president many conservatives revile. Full story
Just 91 House Republicans voted with every Democrat to keep the government open after midnight Wednesday — that’s three out of every eight members of the conference.
It could have been that the 151 GOP opponents felt free to snub the continuing resolution — which didn’t contain language defunding Planned Parenthood — knowing Democrats were prepared to make up for the shortfall.
But it could signal trouble ahead of the Dec. 11 deadline to pass a longer-term spending measure, which must adhere to higher spending caps lest it run into the veto pen of President Barack Obama, who has pledged not to sign any “omnibus” that doesn’t replace sequestration.
Though conditions on the ground looked eerily similar to those that caused a two-week government shutdown two years ago, the House on Wednesday passed legislation to keep federal operations afloat through Dec. 11.
With hours to spare, the chamber voted on the stopgap spending bill, 277-151, with every Democrat, joined by 91 Republicans, voting “yes” and 151 Republicans voting “no.” Full story
While House Republicans were still digesting the news Speaker John A. Boehner would be stepping down at the end of October, House Democrats were quickly getting in on the action.
In official statements, news conferences and hallway interviews, members of the minority party could barely contain their schadenfreude. Full story
House Democrats have said they don’t want to help pass a continuing resolution that funds the government at sequester levels — unless it’s a very short-term bill and there’s a promise to begin negotiations to eventually lift the spending caps.
At the moment, it looks like they’re not going to get concessions on either front.
With only six legislative days left before the government runs out of money, House Republicans still don’t have a conference-unifying strategy to avoid a shutdown and defund Planned Parenthood.
Asked whether he was worried about the rapidly closing window in which to act — current funding runs out on Sept. 30 — senior appropriator Tom Cole, R-Okla., laughed.
“Yeah!” the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee chairman told a group of reporters Thursday morning. “I mean, sooner’s better.” Full story
House Republican leaders don’t want to be the first to flinch at Democrats’ calls to repeal sequester-level spending caps, but senior GOP appropriators emerged from a closed-door meeting Wednesday in agreement: Congress has to do something.
Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., gathered his 12 subcommittee chairmen together to discuss next steps for the fiscal 2016 appropriations process that has ground to a halt on Capitol Hill with just 15 scheduled legislative days left to avert a government shutdown in September. Full story
Last year, House Democrats saw ex-Majority Leader Eric Cantor as a possible (if ultimately disappointing) ally in the fight to rewrite the Voting Rights Act for the 21st century.
On Tuesday, Cantor’s leadership successor, Kevin McCarthy, might have revealed himself as another important potential friend to the effort. Full story
At midday Thursday, there was a gathering in Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s members’ lounge off Statuary Hall to toast House passage of Trade Adjustment Assistance, the last piece of a legislative package giving Trade Promotion Authority to President Barack Obama.
But among the select group of lawmakers and aides from both parties, there was one notable absence: The House Democrat who helped win for Obama the ability to negotiate a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership. Full story
The House did Thursday what two weeks ago might have seemed impossible: Cleared for President Barack Obama the second and third of four necessary components to his ambitious and contentious trade agenda.
Lawmakers voted 286-138 on a bill to establish broad trade preferences and extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which facilitates trade between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa. Full story
That’s how several House Democrats and senior aides described the current feeling in the caucus regarding their efforts to stop “fast-track” trade authority for the White House.
Over the past two weeks, most members of the House Democratic Caucus have gone from opposing Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation — packaged with the related Trade Promotion Authority, a Republican and Obama administration priority — to acknowledging there’s little point in voting “no.” Full story
The House will take a second crack at passing Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation early next week, after giving President Barack Obama and pro-trade Democrats the weekend to flip some of the party’s 144 “no’s.”
Republicans say this is Democrats’ last chance to pass TAA, which provides resources for retraining programs for U.S. workers displaced by international trade agreements, and which Democrats have typically supported. Full story