=Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Congress returns to Washington after the Thanksgiving holiday facing a crushing to-do list of must-pass legislation and GOP agenda items, along with the looming threat of a government shutdown in December.
The House has just 12 legislative days scheduled until the end of the year, while the Senate has 15.
Senate Republicans are working to approve their tax proposal this week, in order to reconcile their bill with House Republicans’ version and send a compromise to President Donald Trump’s desk by the end of the month.
Lawmakers will soon confront the Dec. 8 government funding deadline, which could result in the passage of a stopgap funding measure — keeping the government open at current funding levels — a catch-all spending bill or a partial government shutdown. (The U.S. Treasury also hits its borrowing limit on Dec. 8, but action isn’t expected on the debt ceiling until next year.)
Liberal Democrats hope to leverage the deadline and must-pass legislation as a way to force action on legal protections for hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” after Trump moved to phase out the program by March of 2018. Some, including Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., have pledged to withhold their vote for a spending deal without protections for Dreamers.
Complicating that debate is Trump’s own push for a border wall, which still resonates with his supporters but has little chance of clearing the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.
Democrats also want to push Republicans to approve a bipartisan measure reinstating cost-sharing subsidies for insurers that help low-income Americans afford health insurance. But many Republicans are reluctant to approve any legislation that would help prop up the current Obamacare system, following their efforts to repeal and replace the legislation with their own plan.
Additionally, Republicans and Democrats are negotiating changes to government spending limits, which must be dealt with before addressing next year’s spending figures.
Hurricane relief and children’s health insurance
Congressional leaders have plans to consider additional supplemental hurricane recovery funds for Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, after the White House requested more than $44 billion in aid, along with funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Congress failed to reauthorize the program in September, and states are quickly running out of money.
A key element of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act regarding National Security Agency surveillance is set to expire at the end of the year — adding a crucial national security item to the to-do list on Capitol Hill.
Trump will meet Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at the White House to discuss spending caps and the rest of the legislative calendar.
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