Both chambers will convene this week to start their 2018 legislative work in earnest. Most policy attention will focus on funding negotiations to keep the government open past Jan. 19, with disaster aid emerging as a new divisive issue between the two parties. The House passed an $81 billion relief package before the holidays, but Senate Democrats are opposing that measure in the upper chamber over concerns that it doesn’t provide enough support for disaster-struck areas, most notably Puerto Rico. Republicans have accused the minority of slow-walking desperately needed aid, adding another wrinkle to the funding debate with just two legislative weeks left before the next government shutdown deadline.
Floor action this week will start in the Senate with a cloture vote scheduled for Monday on the nomination of William Campbell to be a U.S. District Judge and four additional judicial nominations in the queue for the remainder of the week. Specifically, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has filed cloture on the nominations of William Campbell to be a U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, Thomas Parker to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee, Michael Brown to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, and Walter Counts to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Texas.
The House’s inaugural docket for the 2018 session features two Senate-passed bills on tribal water rights (S. 140) and the use of a criminal investigation tool known as Rapid DNA (S. 139). The only floor action to expect today is an official quorum call to signal the beginning of the chamber’s work for the second session.