Federal Update 2018
The House and Senate are out this week for the Thanksgiving recess and return next week with the goal of striking a deal on extending a government funding bill that is set to expire on December 7th. The most pressing issue surrounding the funding bill is the president’s request for border wall funding. Congress will also try to addressexpired tax breaks and potential technical fixes to the GOP tax law before the end of the year
Other pressing issues remain in the Senate with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) demanding a vote on a bill to protect Robert Mueller and his investigation and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pushing for a vote on abipartisan sentencing reform bill.
On Sunday, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson conceded the U.S. Senate race in Florida to Republican Gov. Rick Scott, giving Senate Republicans a 52-47 majority in the Senate with an expected 53 seats following the Mississippi runoff election later this month. In the House, Democrats hold a 232-198 majority with 5 races that remain undecided. Out of the five races, 4 are leaning towards Republican victories for incumbent Reps. Will Hurd (TX-23), Mia Love (UT-4), Rob Woodall (GA-7), and Chris Collins (NY-27).
Last week, House Republicans selected Rep. Kevin McCarthy to serve as the House Minority Leader for the 116thCongress, defeating a challenge from Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan by a vote of 159-43. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was selected to serve as House Minority Whip, and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) will be the GOP conference chairwoman, the third-ranking House Republican.
House Democrats will select their leadership later this month with current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) seeking to shore up the votes needed to be elected speaker. Rumors have circulated that she does not yet have the votes, while some Republicans, including Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y) have expressed a willingness to support Pelosi’s bid in exchange for modifications to House rules.
In the Senate Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was re-elected as Senate Republican leader, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as Senate president pro tempore, John Thune (R-S.D.) as Senate Republican whip, John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) as Senate Republican Conference chairman, Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) as Senate Republican Policy Committee chairman, Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) as Senate Republican Conference vice chairman, and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) as National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman.
Also in the Senate, besides maintaining Schumer as minority leader, Senate Democrats also decided Wednesday to keep the rest of their leadership team in place. That includes Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) as minority whip and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) as assistant minority leader