Lawmakers must return to Washington as government funding deadline and midterm elections loom

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The political environment has changed in the weeks since Congress left town, impacted by the Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights, a string of legislative victories for Democrats earlier this summer and signs the inflation-laden economy improves. Democrats are now much more confident in their ability to stem expected losses in President Joe Biden’s first midterm election. They hope to be able to maintain majority control in the Senate, while preventing the Republicans from obtaining a large majority in the House.

Passing a short-term spending bill before the Sept. 30 deadline at midnight, when government funding is due to expire, will be a major concern for both chambers and will require the support of some Republicans in the Senate. to get the 60 votes needed to pass. Democrats want to demonstrate to voters that they can govern responsibly and not allow a damaging shutdown — and lawmakers from both parties will be eager to allow their most vulnerable members to leave Washington and resume campaigning before the mid-terms. – mandates.

In the Senate, which resumes Tuesday, Democrats will also continue to confirm Biden-appointed federal judges and must decide when to hold a vote on legislation to codify same-sex marriage into federal law, which could put pressure on Republicans. candidates for re-election. , like Ron Johnson from Wisconsin.

When the House resumes sitting next week, attention will once again turn to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. The committee’s work – and how it ultimately concludes its investigation – is in the spotlight, with the panel due to release some of its findings ahead of the November election and a final report after the midterms.

The FBI’s search of Trump’s Florida residence and seizure of Top Secret documents are expected to have continued political fallout on Capitol Hill.

Government Funding and Senate Appointments

With government funding set to expire at the end of the month, both chambers are expected to adopt some kind of interim funding extension in the coming weeks to avoid a shutdown. Interim funding bills are known on Capitol Hill as a Continuing Resolution, or CR for short.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, is aiming for a rolling resolution through mid-December to give lawmakers time to complete regular annual appropriations bills before the end of the current session. of Congress, a Democratic Senate aide told CNN.

So far, the legislative text of a continuing resolution has not yet been made public and the date on which the interim measure will apply will have to be determined between the members of the majority and the minority.

Also top of mind for Democrats: The Biden administration has made its request to Congress for the next government funding bill that includes additional funding for what it describes as “four critical needs,” including “the support for Ukraine, Covid-19, monkeypox and natural disaster recovery.”

This will likely define much of this fall’s battle over government funding legislation, which the critical needs claim will likely be tied to.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats will also continue to confirm Biden-appointed justices, a key priority for the party after Trump and Senate Republicans successfully installed a wide range of conservative picks on the federal bench.

“We’ll be back in September, there’s a lot to do. One of the big things we need to do is the justices,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters at a conference. press in August. “We need to get these judges appointed, they are lifetime appointments, they are very important and we will continue to work on them,” he said.

Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brain Schatz concisely summarized the to-do list for Senate Democrats when CNN recently asked him what the September labor period would look like. “CR and judges,” he said, referring to continued resolve to avoid a shutdown.

Vote on same-sex marriage in the Senate

Schumer said there would be a vote on the same-sex marriage bill, but didn’t give a specific timeline for that, so it’s not yet clear if it will happen in September or if it will happen. will produce a little later.

Asked at the August press conference about holding a vote on the issue, Schumer said: “We’ll have a vote on marriage equality… We’ll have a vote on that. I don’t tell you. give no timetable.”

Momentum — and support — picked up on Capitol Hill for a Senate vote on a bill to codify same-sex marriage after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June.

A source familiar with the matter told CNN that senior Senate Democrats are possibly considering adding marriage equality to the interim funding bill to prevent a government shutdown on Sept. 30, which could complicate its passage. He will need at least 60 votes to advance the Senate and prevent a shutdown before September 30.

In July, Republican and Democratic senators said they expected a same-sex marriage bill could eventually win the 60 votes needed to smash a filibuster, a sign of growing public acceptance and a sea change on an issue that had once deeply divided the two parties. To overcome a filibuster, at least 10 Republicans would need to vote with the 50-member Democratic caucus to advance the bill to a final vote.

Democrats could use the issue to force a tough vote for vulnerable Republicans for re-election in November, but it’s still unclear if the necessary support would ultimately be there to pass the legislation.

The agenda of the Chamber and the commission of January 6

The House is expected to return from recess the week of Sept. 12 with no set schedule for the rest of the year before the 2022 midterms.

Also on the table is a police bill — specifically a bipartisan bill, led by moderate Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger and GOP Rep. Tom Rice, that would increase the federal grant to more than $1 billion. for a Justice Department office that allocates money to local police departments to train community policing officers and professionals, especially for rural police departments.

Moderate and vulnerable Democrats had pushed for a vote on police legislation before leaving town for the August recess in a bid to refute GOP attacks on police funding, but members of the Congressional Black Caucus had concerns and pressed for accountability in police language.

Democrats have yet to determine when they will bring the bill to a vote for language concerns.

Meanwhile, work continues for the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the panel, recently said the committee continues to be in “back and forth talks” with lawyers for former Vice President Mike Pence about seeking voluntary testimony.

“If the vice president comes, we would love to have him. We had exchanges last year with his lawyer. It would add to the credibility of our work if the vice president came voluntarily. He made public statements indicating that there is some interest in him coming, and we plan to give him that opportunity to appear before the committee,” Thompson said.

Thompson also said the committee “spent a lot of time over the August recess, putting together recommendations, looking at potential hearing opportunities for September when we meet again.”

Thompson added that the committee plans to release some of the panel’s findings before the November midterms, with the final report coming after the midterms.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Annie Grayer and Betsy Klein contributed.

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