This Week in Congress: Congress Returns for Brief Legislative Sprint

Congress returns for a truncated legislative work week as lawmakers look to clear crucial agenda items prior to next week’s recess. In significant appropriations news, both chambers are positioned to take up the first conference report on a package of three fiscal 2019 spending bills, which fund agencies including the departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs, as well as military construction projects and Congress itself. Congress will also hold conference committees for the next two spending packages — including FY 2019 appropriations for the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services (HHS), ‘Financial Services and General Government,’ ‘Agriculture and Rural Development,’ ‘Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies,’ and ‘Transportation, Housing, Urban Development, and Related Agencies’ — in hopes of producing final appropriations numbers for the underlying agencies.

The House will reconvene later today as it seeks to clear 24 bills under suspension of the rules. For the balance of the week, lawmakers are expected to consider a bill (H.R. 3798) that would amend the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate to adjust the definition of “full-time employees” from a 30-hour threshold up to a 40-hour threshold. Previous versions of the bill stalled in the House during the 113th and 114th Congresses, however, the GOP-controlled 115th Congress and a Republican President may be the bill’s best chance of enactment.

The Senate also reconvenes this afternoon, and is slated to resume consideration of Charles Rettig to be Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Senate leaders have also reached an agreement to vote on a package of bills to address the nation's opioid crisis. The Opioid Crisis Response Act (section-by-section) comprises more than 70 bills reported out of five Senate committees and touches on nearly every aspect of the epidemic. If passed, the bill will need to be reconciled with the House-passed measure (H.R. 6) prior to becoming law.