Congress faces jampacked end to 2021

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WASHINGTON — Congress will face a packed agenda when it returns from the Thanksgiving holiday, from facing tough deadlines for running the federal government to passing President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion safety net and climate legislation.

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“When I see this play in the next month, I break it down into a mini-series. And the first part is a defense bill and a bridge to the budget. Most senators support it. We’ll get it done,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Min., said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“Secondly, the debt limit. If Republicans want to clamp down on us and raise people’s interest rates and make it harder to make car payments — go ahead, make that case. We’re going to stop them from doing that.” ,” she said, before referring to voting rights and Biden’s social spending bill. “And, finally, what we just talked about is Build Back a Better Bill. We can get it done.”


The newly discovered Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has caused alarm and led to some new travel restrictions in the US, is also likely to be a hot topic.

Here are the big issues facing Congress in the last weeks of 2021.

government funding

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Government funding runs out on Friday, and it remains uncertain whether the parties can agree to a one-year appropriations bill in time. But neither side wants a shutdown, so Congress may fall back on another stopgap measure to preserve funding at current levels.

The federal government is already operating at levels agreed during the Trump administration after Congress passed a stopgap bill in September. Democrats are eager for a new budget, but they need Republican support, as the legislation is subject to a 60-vote filibuster rule in the Senate.

“I’m guessing what we’re doing is a short-term extension. I’m not sure what that end date will be,” Representative Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said Thursday on MSGranthshala. “I’ve heard some in the Senate say February, which would be a gift but, I suspect, it’s not likely to happen.”

authorizing military budget

Congress plans to expand the military budget. The House voted 316-113 in September to pass a massive $778 billion Pentagon policy bill on a bipartisan basis, known as the National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate plans to pass the law by the end of the year.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Vy., said on “Fox News Sunday” that the measure “should have been passed months ago, but it’s on the back burner,” for which he blamed Democrats.

“We never want to send our men and women in uniform to a fair fight,” he said. “We want to make sure they have the equipment, the manpower, the firepower that they need.”

Some lawmakers objected to the Pentagon’s further expansion.

Representative Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass., a maritime veteran, said the military budget is “out of control.” And Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, said it was “weird that, even as we end the longest war in our country’s history, concerns about the war in Afghanistan, the deficit and the national debt, would melt away under its influence.” powerful military-industrial complex.”

averting loan defaults

The deadline for raising the loan limit is December 15, as set by the Treasury Department, before the US ends its borrowing authority to pay its bills. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said breaking the ceiling could lead the country into default and lead to a recession warning,

The loan limit was raised last month on a short-term basis, and it was very harsh. Democrats insisted it should be done on a bipartisan basis, and Republicans, after weeks of rigor, dropped Filibuster and allowed it to vote. It is unclear whether Democrats will lift the debt cap on their own or seek another bipartisan vote this time.

But the temperature seems to be cooling down since the last fight.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. heard a non-controversial note on November 16 when asked about the loan limit: “Yeah, we’ll figure out how to avoid default. We always do,” he said.

Passing the Build Back Better Act

The $1.7 trillion legislation is Biden’s top priority, and the Democratic-controlled Congress is determined to send it to his desk by the end of the year. The House passed the bill on November 19, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, in a vote of 220–213, with only one Democrat, Maine’s Jared Golden, in opposition and joining a unanimous GOP convention.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Democrats need all 50 votes in their caucus to pass it. It will not be easy. Some provisions, such as higher limits on paid leave and state and local tax deductions, are likely to change to win support. Other policies, such as changes to immigration law, risk breaching budget rules that limit the process to matters of spending and taxes.

And Republicans are expected to try to throw a wrench in the process during the so-called Vote-a-Rama, in which amendments have been made to dilute the bill and disrupt the delicate deal between Democrats.

Dingell said: “I’m wondering if I’ll be home for Christmas. I’ve been a Washington student for decades, and it’s unfathomable that we could be here between Christmas and New Years. The American people did it. chose us for, and there are many things that the people of our districts need which are in these bills.”

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