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What’s coming up in Congress

Wake Up To Politics: What’s coming up in Congress
What’s coming up in Congress

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Monday, September 12, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 57 days away. Election Day 2024 is 785 days away.

Welcome back to another week of waking up to politics. I hope you had a fantastic weekend.

What’s coming up in Congress

This final stretch before Election Day, when lawmakers want to campaign and partisan battle lines are being drawn, is not generally known as a particularly productive time for legislating. But this has been an unusual year for Congress: as I’ve been chronicling every Friday, a lot of substantive legislation has been making its way to President Biden’s desk.

What else might the 117th Congress achieve before November? Let’s take a look at what’s on the agenda, in order of how likely each measure is to get approved:

➞ Must-pass: The continuing resolution. Government funding is set to expire on September 30, which means lawmakers must pass another continuing resolution (CR) in order to avoid a government shutdown. Per Roll Call, the next CR is likely to keep the government funded until December 16.

The resolution is all but certain to pass in some form; the only question is what will be attached to it. The White House has requested four changes to current government funding levels: $22.4 billion for the Covid response, $4.5 billion for the monkeypox response, $13.7 billion in Ukraine aid, and $6.5 billion for natural disaster aid.

Of those, the Ukraine support and probably the disaster aid appear the most likely to receive the necessary Republican support to avert a Senate filibuster. Previous pandemic funding efforts have struggled to pick up GOP votes.  

➞ Looks promising: Same-sex marriage. Supporters of a House-passed bill to codify federal protections for same-sex marriage are increasingly optimistic that the measure will be approved in the Senate — possibly as soon as this week.

Negotiations coordinated by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are expected to lead to at least two changes being made to the House bill: an amendment to clarify that the bill won’t infringe on religious liberty, and another to clarify that it doesn’t legalize polygamous marriages.

The measure was backed by 47 Republicans in the House, a good sign for its Senate odds. But, notably, 10 GOP “yea” votes have yet to materialize, and Hill insiders expect many undecided Republicans won’t announce their position until the vote itself.

➞ Up in the air: Permitting reform. In exchange for greenlighting their major climate change, health care, and tax package last month, Democrats promised Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) a vote on a permitting reform bill. Such a measure would speed up the process of approving new energy projects in the U.S., setting a two-year limit for the lengthy environmental reviews that often lead to delays

Permitting reform would likely lead to a quicker process for clean energy projects — but it would also accelerate fossil fuel projects opposed by Democrats, such as a West Virginia gas pipeline championed by Manchin.

As a result, 70+ House Democrats signed a letter to party leaders last week urging them not to include permitting reform in the CR, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has signaled plans to do. Importantly, they did not pledge to vote against a CR with permitting reform attached — although Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has.

“The Continuing Resolution must not be held hostage by Big Oil,” Sanders added on Twitter.

➞ Very long shot: Child tax credit. Per Axios, the White House is making one last push for an enhanced Child Tax Credit, even raising the possibility of backing expired corporate tax credits in exchange for GOP support. But don’t hold your breath that any deal of this sort will be made.

➞ Appears dead: Big Tech bills. Bipartisan efforts targeting the tech industry appear to be sputtering in both chambers of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has raised issues with a major data privacy bill, expressing concern that it would preempt a more sweeping version in her home state of California.

Meanwhile, Schumer has promised Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) a vote on their antitrust bill, which would block Big Tech companies from prioritizing their own services over those of their rivals. But the measure’s path to 60 votes is increasingly in doubt. Don’t hold your breath on either measure getting through Congress anytime soon.

➞ Punted to the lame duck: Election reform. Remember the bipartisan push to reform the Electoral Count Act, in order to prevent another January 6th? Lawmakers are still tinkering with the resulting two bills to ensure they receive 60 votes — efforts that are not expected to be done by Election Day.

Per NBC News, the “growing expectation” on the Hill is that the bills won’t be voted on until the “lame duck session” between the November 8 midterms and the beginning of the new Congress on January 3.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is at the center of several ongoing bipartisan pushes. (Gage Skidmore)

More news you should know

➞ Ukraine made significant gains over the weekend, as a successful counteroffensive pushed Russian forces to retreat from the critical Kharkiv region. In all, Ukraine says it has regained 3,000 square kilometers (more than 1,100 square miles) of territory this month — “more territory than Russian forces have captured in all their operations in Ukraine since April,” CNN notes.

More headlines of note:

Today at a glance

All times Eastern.

President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (9 am), and then he’s off to Boston, Massachusetts. While there, he’ll deliver remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure package at Boston Logan Airport (11:20 am), on his “Cancer Moonshot” at the John F. Kennedy Library (4 pm), and at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser (6 pm). Then he’ll return to Washington.

  • Context: Today is the 60th anniversary of Kennedy’s “moonshot” speech pledging that the U.S. would put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Biden’s “moonshot” aims to reduce cancer deaths by half by 2047.
  • Watch Biden’s infrastructure speech. Watch his cancer speech.

Vice President Harris will meet with civil rights and abortion rights leaders to discuss the struggle for abortion rights (5 pm).

Second Gentleman Emhoff will meet with the National Council of Jewish Women to discuss abortion rights (2:30 pm).

  • Context: Emhoff is the first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a press gaggle during the Air Force One flight to Boston.

The Senate will convene (3 pm) and hold two votes on judicial nominations (5:30 pm): confirming Salvador Mendoza to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit and advancing Arianna Freeman to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit.

  • Watch today’s Senate session.

The House is out until tomorrow.

The Supreme Court is out until September 28.

Before I go...

Here’s some good news: Child poverty has sharply declined in the United States.

“A comprehensive new analysis shows that child poverty has fallen 59 percent since 1993, with need receding on nearly every front,” the New York Times reports. “Child poverty has fallen in every state, and it has fallen by about the same degree among children who are white, Black, Hispanic and Asian, living with one parent or two, and in native or immigrant households.”

Nearly 28% of American children were counted as poor in 1993. By 2019, before temporary Covid-era measures pushed the number even lower, the child poverty level was recorded at about 11%.

“This is an astounding decline in child poverty,” an author of the new study told the Times. “Its magnitude is unequaled in the history of poverty measurement, and the single largest explanation is the growth of the safety net.”

Here’s the Times report. Here’s the new study (no paywall).

(Child Trends)

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe