This Week on the Hill: Congress Returns for ‘Lame-Duck’ Session

November 13, 2018

House and Senate lawmakers will return to Washington today to begin the “lame duck” session of Congress. As lawmakers seek to clear the seven outstanding appropriations bills, Congress faces a distinct possibility of a post-election showdown over border wall funding. If lawmakers are unable to reach a deal, another continuing resolution (CR) will likely be required to fund the government into early next year. Meanwhile, other items on the lame duck agenda include a farm bill and flood insurance package — both of which are set to expire before the end of the year — along with more targeted action to address issues including criminal justice reform or the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” reimbursement issue.

On the floor this week, Senators are currently slated to take up the legislative vehicle (S.140) for Coast Guard reauthorization and consider the nomination of Michelle Bowman to be a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. In the House, lawmakers have teed up a list of 15 bills under suspension of the rules, as well as a bill (H.R. 6784) that would remove the gray wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife published under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

In notable midterm election developments, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has defeated Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Rep. Sinema’s victory makes her the first female Arizonan ever elected to serve in the chamber and the first Democrat elected since 1988. Elsewhere, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) currently leads Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in Florida’s Senate race. However, the race is still too close to call as the final margins (Scott currently leads by 0.15 percent) are within the state-mandated recount threshold. The final result is expected to be announced in the coming weeks following the contentious recount.