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There is still a lot on the congressional to-do list before the end of the year, impacting everything from wars abroad to airports nationwide.
December is here, and for the first time in years Congress isn't facing the threat of a government shutdown right around the holidays. But there is still a lot on the congressional to-do list before the end of the year, impacting everything from wars abroad to airports nationwide.
There are just two weeks of work scheduled for the House and the Senate in December, and congressional leaders have laid out an aggressive list of goals for that time frame.
On top of the list is President Biden's supplemental funding request for Israel, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific and the southern border. Some lawmakers want to deal with these issues separately — and some House Republicans are trying to add partisan border priorities into the package.
"The solution for passing the supplemental is bipartisan compromise, and we have shown that we are willing to do it. The wrong answer is to let Ukraine aid, let Israel aid, let aid to civilians in Gaza all get bungled because the hard right wanted H.R. 2 or something close to it," Sen. Chuck Schumer said on Thursday.
Congress also needs to deal with the FAA reauthorization, which is set to expire at the end of the year. The debate over pilot training and retirement requirements has slowed down talks. The bill is also expected to help increase the number of air traffic controllers.
"An awful lot of the reason for delay as people are experiencing delay in air travel, is because of shortage of air traffic controllers. And the FAA Reauthorization bill would really help us get at that problem," said Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.
Other issues facing an end-of-year deadline include the National Defense Authorization Act and reauthorization of section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
But that's not all. Another item on the agenda is simply making progress on the federal budget. But Republicans and Democrats haven't even settled on top line spending amounts.
"So part of the negotiations on the supplemental, part of the negotiations on the remaining appropriations bills and everything that's on our plate is viewed by us through that we have to restore this idea of fiscal sanity," said Speaker Mike Johnson.
The House and Senate are expected to pass differing versions of the 12 regular appropriations bills, so the two chambers will need to meet to reconcile those differences, and that takes time. The first budget deadline comes Jan. 19, 2024.
McConnell's comments come as Congress works to secure a funding agreement by Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown.
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