Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
December 13, 2022

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said this morning that he expects a year-end omnibus spending package to include the Electoral Count Act and more funding for Ukraine. The Electoral Count Act would clarify that the constitutional role of the vice president is solely ministerial when Congress convenes in a joint session every four years to certify the results of a presidential election.  The language is intended to resolve any ambiguity about whether the vice president has the power to overturn the vote of the Electoral College, something that former President Donald Trump claimed was possible after losing the 2020 presidential election.  Senate negotiators haven’t confirmed what amount of funding for Ukraine will be included in the omnibus, however the Biden administration last month requested an additional $37.7 billion to continue military and economic support to Ukraine in its war against Russia.

As omnibus negotiations continue, the Senate is eyeing a one-week stopgap bill to push back a Friday, December 16th deadline to fund the government, as negotiators continue to pursue a full-year funding agreement.  Leader Schumer put members on notice to expect a continuing resolution (CR), this week to avert a government shutdown.  Part of the struggle to agree on an overall spending level is that Republican leaders say military funding should be higher than nondefense funding in the larger package.  However, after weeks of impasse on domestic funding levels, lead negotiators in the House and Senate have made progress in recent days. Lawmakers have largely agreed to set the defense budget at about $858 billion for this fiscal year, a 10 percent increase over current funding levels.  There are at least four Republicans in the Senate who have publicly called for punting on government funding until next year so that the GOP-controlled House can rewrite the bill. If any one of those senators objects to quick passage of a stopgap measure, it could potentially force a government shutdown.  The House could pass a temporary funding measure as soon as Wednesday. But even that short spending patch comes with its own risks in the Senate, as any one senator can hold up a bill to request amendment votes or other concessions — pushing the government closer to the shutdown deadline.

For today, the Senate is working on the nomination of Dana M. Douglas to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit, the nomination of Jay Curtis Shambaugh to be an Under Secretary of the Treasury and the Motion to discharge S.J.Res.56, Yemen, from the Foreign Relations Committee.  This joint resolution directs the President to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities against the Houthis in Yemen within 30 days of the enactment of the resolution

The House is expected to finish work on H.R. 3648 – EAGLE Act of 2022 as well as take up as many as 18 bills under suspension of the Rules.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.