Next Week on the Hill: Congress Looks to Avoid Another Round of Shutdown Drama

When they return from legislative retreats on Monday, lawmakers will have four days to craft and pass another continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running beyond Feb. 8. The current plan is reportedly for a spending patch that would fund the government through Mar. 22, beyond key deadlines for the deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program (Mar. 5) and debt ceiling (mid-March). For that reason, House Democrats are likely to continue their opposition, while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is reportedly facing sharp resistance from his own party as the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives have signaled they may vote against a CR unless progress is made on their own immigration plan. With a vote tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Republican leaders may need to make additional concessions in one direction or the other in order to ensure that another spending patch can pass the lower chamber.

Aside from another round of government funding drama, the House is also planning to consider a pair of regulatory relief bills (H.R. 4771; H.R. 1153) from the House Financial Services Committee as well as a bill (H.R. 772) that would revise food safety disclosure requirements at restaurants. The two former bills both passed in committee on significant bipartisan margins, signaling they will likely enjoy considerable support on the House floor. The House will likely break after Tuesday next week to allow House Democrats to attend a legislative retreat of their own in Cambridge, Maryland.

The Senate will also have a role to play in the CR negotiations, but right now it appears that the House will be taking the lead. In immediate floor action, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has teed up a confirmation vote Monday for Andrei Iancu to lead the Commerce Department’s Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Iancu was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in December.