December 4, 2023
What to expect in Washington (December 4)
The House is back in today (Monday, December 4) but votes don't start until Tuesday, December 5. No spending bills are on the schedule for the week ahead of the two-step expiration of government funding January 19 and February 2. It's unclear how the appropriations process will proceed now that the Freedom Caucus bloc of members is no longer pushing for drastic spending cuts for FY2024 bills to return to FY2022 discretionary spending levels and is willing to support the agreement in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) to adhere to the FY2023 level of $1.59 trillion.
Also this week, Supreme Court oral arguments begin Tuesday in Moore v. United States, in which the taxpayer argues that the transition tax under IRC Section 965 violates the Constitution's Apportionment Clause and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment because the transition tax was a direct tax on unrealized income.
The House this week may vote on two health care bills — the TRANQ Research Act, a measure on fentanyl research and the Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act, a measure on veterans' care — under suspension of the rules, meaning the bill would require a two-thirds vote to pass. Other bills to be considered by the House this week include the Choice in Automobile Retail Sales Act of 2023 (H.R. 4468), an Energy and Commerce Committee bill addressing vehicle emissions standards. The House will also consider a resolution of disapproval regarding education loan repayment rules.
The Senate reconvenes today (Monday, December 4) at 3 p.m., with a procedural vote on a judicial nomination at 5:30 p.m. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said he may put the national security supplemental with funding for Israel, Ukraine, etc. on the floor as soon as this week, but a bipartisan deal on border security provisions that Republicans want included hasn't been reached. Punchbowl News reported that "Senate Democrats walked away Friday from negotiations with Republicans on border policy changes, citing what they describe as intractable GOP demands on asylum and parole reform."
The House has passed an Israel-only national security supplemental measure with $14.5 billion in aid and an equal amount in IRS funding rescissions. Senators of both parties support including Ukraine funding in the bill. Republicans have demanded border security measures that were the subject of the now-stalled bipartisan negotiations.
Still, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) said on ABC's This Week yesterday, "We are making progress on this." Asked whether a national security supplemental could proceed without border provisions, he said, "No. We're going to do this all together." On a border deal, he said, "There's a reason that this hasn't been done in decades, because it's hard. It's very technical work, and there's a lot of challenges that are in it. And any time you deal with border security, there are a lot of complicating features in this. So, we're going through very, very detailed work, very, very detailed law."
A National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference agreement could be brought to the Senate floor instead of the supplemental. Politico reported that an agreement has been reached on the conference agreement and text could be released this week.
The Senate Commerce Committee could schedule a markup this week on a five-year bill on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization and taxes, though a stopgap measure through March 8 is expected to be passed by Congress in recognition that a House-Senate conference committee could not complete its work before year end, when the current authorization expires.
Congress is only set to be in session for another two weeks before planned adjournment for the holidays, which is December 14 for the House and December 15 for the Senate. In terms of other items that may be considered, Politico Morning Tax said today, "It really is crunch time if Congress wants to complete a tax bill this year, with lawmakers likely to work for only a couple more weeks before calling it a day for 2023. Last week saw a new burst of optimism over a potential agreement to expand both the Child Tax Credit and some preferences for business, even as lawmakers acknowledged they have plenty of hurdles to clear to make that happen."
Hearings — The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on drug shortages on Tuesday, December 5 at 10 a.m.
The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on "Annual Oversight of Wall Street Firms" on Wednesday, December 6 at 9:30 a.m.
House Ways & Means Committee hearings include: