While the Senate saw its two newest members — Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Doug Jones (D-AL) — get sworn in yesterday, their first votes as sitting senators will have to wait. Severe winter weather across the East Coast has cut the legislative week short, as the upper chamber postponed votes until Monday, Jan. 8. The Senate will remain in session today to debate the nomination of David Counts III to be a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Texas, but many senators have already left town with inclement weather threatening to complicate their travel plans.
Meanwhile, government funding negotiations continue to inch forward, as Congressional leaders emerged from closed-door talks with Trump administration officials yesterday claiming progress toward a budget deal. However, with no major breakthroughs announced and less than three weeks to go before the Jan 19. deadline, momentum appears to be heading towards another short-term continuing resolution (CR) to buy more time for more negotiations. Complicating the negotiations are fierce debates over a legislative fix for “Dreamers” who have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, funding for a wall along the nation’s southern border, and an elusive agreement over federal spending levels.