Final spending spree: Four things Democrats want before they lose total control of Congress

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., joined by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y. speaks to media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Final spending spree: Four things Democrats want before they lose total control of Congress

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Lawmakers have returned to the halls of Congress after weeks of campaigning for the midterm elections, and Democrats are scrambling to pass several of their top agenda items before losing control of the House in January.

House Democrats face a long list of to-do items during the lame-duck period, eyeing several agenda items they haven’t yet accomplished over the last two years. However, passing such legislation may be easier said than done as Democrats still face a 50-50 split in the Senate, meaning the party will have to forge compromises with Republicans if it wishes to push crucial agenda items through the upper chamber.

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Here are four items on Democrats’ to-do list they hope to accomplish before the end of the year.

Government funding

At the top of the list, Congress is tasked with funding the government.

Lawmakers previously passed a short-term funding bill in September to keep the government funding while Congress works out the final kinks in its budget, with that bill set to expire on Dec. 16. As a result, lawmakers have made it their top priority to pass a government funding bill as they returned from recess earlier this week.

Because the funding legislation must be passed to keep the government running, Democrats may seek to add additional measures, such as increased financial support for Ukraine amid the war in Russia, as a way to pass more items on their agenda during the lame-duck session.

The funding bill is also the last chance for Democrats and the Biden administration to push their economic agenda before Republicans take control of the House in January. For the last two years, President Joe Biden has managed to pass historic measures for infrastructure and climate spending thanks to Democratic majorities in Congress.

Same-sex marriage bill

Democrats in the Senate are also seeking to pass the Respect for Marriage Act Wednesday, which would codify same-sex and interracial marriage into federal law. Democrats have made the legislation a top priority during the current lame-duck period, hoping to garner as much Republican support as possible in the Senate to push the legislation through.

The bill previously passed the House in July with 47 Republicans joining Democrats to back the legislation. However, Senate Democrats pushed back a final vote until after the midterm elections in an effort to lock down GOP support that would guarantee the bill passes the upper chamber.

The bill advanced in the Senate on Wednesday with a 62-37 vote, surpassing the 60-vote threshold needed to defeat a filibuster. Up next will be a final vote on passage in the Senate, although an exact date for this has not yet been scheduled.

Electoral Count Act

Democrats are also eyeing the passage of bipartisan legislation that would make it harder to overturn the results of a presidential election — a direct response to efforts by former President Donald Trump to block the certification of Biden’s win in 2020.

The Electoral Count Act passed the House earlier this year, with the Senate working up its own version of the legislation over the last few months. If the Senate manages to pass the bill, the updated version would need to clear the House once again before heading to Biden’s desk for approval.

The proposed revisions to the Electoral Count Act clarify provisions already laid out in the law, including the responsibilities of the vice president in overseeing the certification of election results and the expectations for a smooth transition of power.

Raising the debt limit 

The debt ceiling has long been a legislative priority among Democrats in Congress, although it may be unlikely party lawmakers will make much headway before the lame-duck session expires.

Democrats have argued the debt limit must be raised in order to avoid defaulting on loans, while Republicans have remained adamant that the Democratic Party must agree to cut down on spending if it wishes to come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier this week that Democrats would “look at” the issue, stopping short of giving specific details.

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“The debt ceiling, of course, is something that we have to deal with. And it’s something that we will look at over the next few weeks,” Schumer said during a press conference on Sunday. “I have to talk to the leadership first. We don’t know where the House is going to be.”

Although the ceiling doesn’t need to be raised immediately, Democrats have pushed to increase the debt limit while they still hold control of both chambers of Congress.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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