Y’all Politics

As Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess, lawmakers face a packed Democrat-led agenda

Urgent deadlines and major issues loom large for Congressional consideration.

By Anne Summerhays 

Congressional lawmakers return from Thanksgiving recess today, with plans to discuss and vote on a variety of big issues before the end of the year. Some of those issues include:

  • Funding the government before the current resolution expires on Friday, December 3rd.
  • Authorizing the military budget. The U.S. House voted in September to pass the National Defense Authorization Act but the Senate has not acted as of yet. Leaders say they plan to take it up by the end of 2021.
  • Raising the debt ceiling. The deadline to raise the debt ceiling is December 15th. It was raised last month on a short-term basis.
  • Considering President Joe Biden’s social spending package known as the Build Back Better Act. The House passed the $2 trillion legislation before the Thanksgiving recess and now awaits action in the Senate.

The new COVID Omicron variant may also be a hot topic for Congressional leaders and the White House as it considers what actions, if any, to take.

This week, Congress could vote as early as Wednesday to avert a government shutdown as federal funds are set to run out at midnight on Friday. In September, the U.S. Senate voted on a short-term bill that prevented a federal government shut down.

By the end of the year, the Senate will be voting on the Fiscal Year 2022 NDAA. The military budget for FY 2022 authorizes a topline of $768 billion for military and national security programs at the Department of Defense and Department of Energy. The House passed the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2022, by a vote of 316-113.

The deadline to raise the debt ceiling is December 15th. In October, 206 House Republicans voted against the short-term debt limit bill that would have increased the deficit by $480 billion. This included Mississippi Congressmen Michael Guest (MS-3), Trent Kelly (MS-1) and Steven Palazzo (MS-4).

In a recent letter to Congress, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that though she is highly confident that the Treasury will be able to finance the U.S. government through December 15, “there are scenarios in which Treasury would be left with insufficient remaining resources to continue to finance the operations of the U.S. government beyond this date.”

President Biden’s reconciliation bill, the Build Back Better Act, passed the House in mid-November on a vote of 220-213. All three of Mississippi’s Republican Congressman – Kelly, Guest and Palazzo – opposed the bill, while the state’s lone Democrat Congressman Bennie Thompson supported its passage.

As previously reported by Y’all Politics, the bill now moves to the U.S. Senate as it makes its way through the reconciliation process Democrats are using to push the measure through to avoid the 60-vote threshold. Both Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith has expressed their opposition to the bill.

Democrats want the bill passed before Christmas. Changes are likely in the Senate as leaders there attempt to gain the support of Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). If changes are made, the bill would need to pass the House of Representatives again before being sent to the President for his signature.