A lame-duck Congress is facing a showdown on funding the government before Republicans likely take over the House in January.
As Democrats in the House prepare to pass the Speaker's gavel and a slim majority to Republicans after the midterm elections, they must first grapple with raising the nation's debt ceiling and funding the government after Dec. 16, The Hill reported Tuesday.
"We're going to try to have as productive a lame-duck session as possible," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday, according to The Hill.
Schumer told legislators to get ready for "heavy work" and "long hours" before the GOP takes over the House in January.
Before the new Congress takes office in January, the current lame-duck session needs to wrestle with raising the debt ceiling and appropriate the money needed to keep the government functioning after current measures expire Dec. 16, the report said.
Annual appropriation bills have stalled with none making it through the House and Senate before the midterm elections, with the House approving only half of the 12 funding bills that moved through the chamber during the summer, the report said.
"Having had to shepherd the American Rescue Plan through the House with a four-vote margin, I'd say they have their work cut out for them if they're going to accomplish anything," retiring House Budget Chair John Yarmuth, D-Ky., told Politico of his Republican colleagues. "If they're going to get anything done, they're going to have to work with Democrats."
According to Politico, the parties will have to reach a bipartisan consensus on a $1.5 trillion spending plan to avert the December shutdown, but the delayed election results are making that harder to accomplish as the days go by without a clear understanding of the midterm winners and losers.
In addition to funding the overall government, the lame-duck session must at least attempt to raise the debt ceiling before it hits the current limit sometime next year, come to an understanding about further Ukraine funding in its war with Russia, provide relief to families under the gun of high inflation, and prevent planned Medicare cuts coming next year, the report said.
"Everybody might have an interest in getting the debt ceiling taken care of so that Republicans don't have to do it in the next Congress and Democrats don't have to worry about the leverage that Republicans have," David Wessel, a director of fiscal and monetary policy at the Brookings Institution told Politico. "This could be one of those lame ducks where a lot of things happen."
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