The Weekly Update: Congress’s Last-Minute Save


Good morning and welcome from Washington, DC where Congress averted a government shutdown just in time for government employees to return to work today (and actually get paid for it).  Only in Washington can you meet the minimum standards of your basic job and somehow attempt to take credit for it. In other developments, today former President Trump begins his civil trial in New York for fraud as a judge last week determined he is liable for inflating the value of his properties to secure and obtain business loans.  You know what is not overinflated? The 400% increase in jersey sales for the Kansas City Chiefs tight end, Travis Kelce, since Taylor Swift appeared at Arrowhead Stadium a little over a week ago.  Last night Swiftie was in the Meadowlands as the Chiefs beat the Jets and all remained well in the football world. Other celebs filled the owner’s box to include Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively which probably worked in their schedules since actors remain on strike in Hollywood.  Other strikes remain to include the United Auto Workers, and a potential upcoming three-day strike by 75,000 workers from Kaiser Permanente which will begin Wednesday. The workers demand a resolution to the staffing shortage in the health system. Speaking of resolutions, now that the continuing resolution was passed, we only have until November 17th to fund the government – as my four-year-old daughter would say – “for real life” this time.  Welcome to the Week Ahead!

The Administration

President Biden signed the continuing resolution this weekend to fund the government for 45 days. The CR included disaster relief funding, FAA reauthorization, and an extension of the federal flood insurance program.  One priority for the Biden administration which was not included was additional funding for Ukraine. President Biden spoke on Saturday and blasted “extreme House Republicans” for wanting drastic funding cuts and not supporting funding efforts for Ukraine. He wants Speaker McCarthy to secure a commitment from the House to provide funding for Ukraine moving forward – something to watch as the next rounds of negotiations continue.

The Senate

The Senate played its part this past weekend in helping to avert the government shutdown.  As we previously reported, the Senate was looking to take the lead in the government funding drama by attempting to pass its own bipartisan package. Both the House and Senate were in a race for a collision course, until the House passed their package (details below). However, the proposed CR drama did reveal that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell experienced a slight setback as Republican senators refused to include additional funding for Ukraine in their version of the CR.

With the passing of Senator Feinstein last week, California Governor Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to fill her seat. Butler is the head of EMILY’s List, and she will not work for the organization now that she will fill the vacant seat. This of course is not the end of the story, with a series of special elections schedule to take place next year in the Golden State.

The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs will hold a [hearing]hearing entitled, “VA Accountability and Transparency: A Cornerstone of Quality Care and Benefits for Veterans” this Wednesday at 3pm. Last week, the Senate Finance Committee leaders introduced bipartisan legislation entitled the Modernizing and Ensuring PBM Accountability Act (MEPA) which largely reflects the Chairman’s Mark from July.

The House

Over the weekend Speaker McCarthy cut a deal with House Democrats to avert government shutdown.  The continuing resolution (CR) passed both the House and Senate on Saturday and funded the government for the next 45 days. The measure was passed, 334-92, with 200 Democrats supporting the bill 334-92. The legislation did not include funding for Ukraine. The CR Includes funding to keep community health centers, teaching health centers, and the National Health Service Corps open through November 17th. Additionally, the bill would maintain funding for health centers that offer services to underrepresented communities.

Oh – but the fun continues. Speaker McCarthy is in hot water with the Freedom Caucus as threatening Matt Gaetz aims to bring up the motion to vacate the Chair along with four or five other members of the far-right wing of the Republican party. This is going to be interesting politics as Speaker McCarthy is the number one fundraiser and Gaetz would need Democrat support to overthrow the Speaker. Democrats have yet to signal how they will move in this House Republican civil war.

Additionally, Congress will continue the same fight for the next forty-five days as the government shutdown will be threatened again on November 17th. This will be the ultimate title fight as McCarthy tries to hang on to his Speakership along with avoiding another possible shutdown.

Create a great week!

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