Republicans in Congress are packing the agenda for their lame-duck session after the November 6th midterm elections. Clearly they are worried about losing control and know this may be their last chance to set the agenda for several years.
Top priorities for the GOP include:
- spending legislation,
- the farm bill,
- a package to extend expiring tax breaks,
- criminal justice reform,
- reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and
- passing the Jobs Act 3.0, which is intended to expand capital investment.
Also included on their to-do list is confirming a group of executive and judicial branch nominees, including 36 federal district court and three circuit court judges.
Many of the legislative items on the GOP agenda could be derailed due to disagreements over Trump’s demand that Congress pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“There’s going to be a major fight over that and that’s going to make progress on other areas difficult,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday opened the door to a possible deal by saying Democrats are not opposed to strengthening the U.S. border.
“We Democrats believe in strong border security,” he said, noting that the Senate immigration reform bill backed by Democrats in 2013 included billions of dollars in border security funding. “We’re going to keep fighting for the strongest, toughest border security.”
Cole later said that Schumer’s comments might open the door to a compromise that ties border wall funding to legislation protecting immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children — known as Dreamers — from deportation.
“The natural deal is DACA and the wall,” he said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump rescinded last year, putting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants at risk of removal.
But everyone knows that getting a deal completed on the border wall and other disputed proposals will depend on the outcome of the midterm elections.
“What kind of mood the Democrats are in, I don’t think we know,” Cole said, offering a note of uncertainty into the process.
Schumer on Tuesday said he would discuss Democratic priorities for the lame duck at a later date. It seems that right now all energy is focused on the elections that will take place in just 26 days. Democrats may be talking about Republican lame-ducks, but they certainly don’t want to count their chickens before they hatch.