This week: Congress starts lame-duck with leadership fight

Lawmakers, returning to Washington for the first time in more than a month, are locked in a battle over who will lead Congress next year.

Congress is slated to reconvene on Tuesday, with both chambers gearing up for leadership elections and House Republicans adjusting to their soon-to-be minority status after Democrats managed to flip the chamber during last week’s midterm election.

In the House, GOP lawmakers are set to vote on their new leadership on Nov. 14, with a battle underway for the caucus’s top spot. A leadership election candidate forum is expected to be held Tuesday early evening.

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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump touts Washington Post story on GOP support Pence extends olive branch to Cummings after Trump's Baltimore attacks Marijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis MORE (R-Calif.), who sent a letter to colleagues last week announcing his official bid for the position, appears to be the front-runner in the race for minority leader. McCarthy was endorsed by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea MORE (R-Wis.) to be his successor shortly after his retirement announcement in April.

But the California Republican faces a challenge from Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMeadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader House Republicans want details on Democrats' trips to Mexico GOP lawmakers, states back gunmaker in Sandy Hook appeal MORE (R-Ohio), who, with the backing of a coalition of outside groups, argues the GOP needs a leadership overhaul if they are going to take back the House.

With last week’s defeats, House Republicans will have a smaller, and more conservative, caucus next year, which could give the at times combative wing of the conference more leverage within the party.

House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOn The Money: Senate panel scraps vote on key spending bill amid standoff | Democrats threaten to vote against defense bill over wall funding | Trump set to meet with aides about reducing capital gains taxes Overnight Energy: House moves to block Trump drilling | House GOP rolls out proposal to counter offshore drilling ban | calls mount for NOAA probe House GOP rolls out energy proposal to counter Democrats offshore drilling ban MORE (R-La.) is slated to be the next House minority whip, while Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyLiz Cheney says world is more stable, 'safer' under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate Overnight Defense: Afghanistan tops foreign policy issues at Dem debate | Erdogan says he'll discuss missile sale with Trump | US again challenges Beijing's claim to South China Sea MORE (R-Wyo.) is expected to serve as House Republican Conference chair. House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersSocial determinants of health — health care isn't just bugs and bacteria Lawmakers deride FTC settlement as weak on Facebook Overnight Energy: Fight over fuel standards intensifies | Democrats grill Trump officials over rule rollback | California official blasts EPA chief over broken talks | Former EPA official says Wheeler lied to Congress MORE (R-Wash.) announced she wouldn't seek a second term in leadership last week, shortly after Cheney — who has the backing of several top Republicans — announced she planned to challenge the Washington Republican.

Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerTo boost minority serving institutions, bipartisan Future Act needs immediate action Pressure rises on Cheney to make decision NCAA urges California governor not to sign 'fair pay' bill for college athletes MORE (R-N.C.), who currently serves as the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, announced his bid to serve as vice chairman.

Democrats in the lower chamber are slated hold their leadership elections later this month, but jockeying for the positions is expected to heat up in coming days.

While House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico This week: House jump-starts effort to prevent shutdown Schumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill MORE (D-Calif.) is the front-runner in the race for Speaker, a number of members within her caucus are vowing to vote against her despite a challenger not having come forward. House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThis week: House jump-starts effort to prevent shutdown Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump Nadler: Impeachment inquiry a 'made-up term' but it's essentially 'what we are doing' MORE (D-Md.) announced he will seek to be the next majority leader. Rep. Diana Degette (D-Colo.) will face off against Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) for the position of House majority whip.

And Reps. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Lawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator Overnight Health Care: Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program absent court action | Democrats demand Trump withdraw rule on transgender health | Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' probe MORE (D-Calif.) and Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesWords matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump Democrats face key moment on impeachment drive Top House Democrat walks back remarks contradicting Judiciary on impeachment inquiry MORE (D-N.Y.) are both vying for the role of conference chair.

In the Senate, leadership elections are expected to be less dramatic.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Senator asked FBI to follow up on new information about Kavanaugh last year Congress must reinstate assault weapons ban MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-N.Y.) are both expected to retain the top spot in their respective caucus.

With Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, term-limited in his position after this year, the rest of GOP leadership is expected to seek to move up the ladder. Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump, lawmakers consider app that would conduct background checks: report 'Mike Pounce' trends on Twitter after Trump slip at GOP retreat The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE (R-S.D.), currently the No. 3 Republican senator, is expected to become the next majority whip.

Meanwhile, Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) are battling to become vice chair of the Senate GOP conference, where one of them will be the first woman to serve in the elected Senate Republican leadership since 2010.

Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir Congress set for chaotic fall sprint Overnight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess MORE (R-Ind.) is running to be chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, while Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Female Democratic Senate candidates in Colorado ask DSCC to rescind Hickenlooper endorsement Democrats press Trump Treasury picks on donor disclosure guidelines MORE (D-Nev.) is reportedly being courted to lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

2019 freshmen arrive

Members of next year’s freshman class are arriving in D.C. this week to start laying the groundwork for 2019.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus held a press conference on Monday with some newly elected members on Monday.

Meanwhile, the 116th freshman class will be on Capitol Hill Tuesday for new member orientation.

The newly elected lawmakers are expected to register and check in on Tuesday, gather to take their freshman class photo on Wednesday and attend new member briefings on Thursday.

McConnell will meet with newly elected Republican senators and hold a photo op on Wednesday. Though the Florida Senate race remains too close to call, GOP Gov. Rick Scott is expected to attend new member orientation and participate in leadership elections.

New members also partake in the office lottery, where it’ll be determined who gets the best office space. While most elections have been called, some potential members could end up attending orientation then ultimately end up losing their races. Members will officially be sworn in early next year.

Manage Our Wolves Act

The House is slated to vote on legislation that would delist gray wolves from endangered species lists in the 48 contiguous states and transfer their management back to the states.

“According to the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s best available scientific evidence, the gray wolf is not endangered any no longer warrants federal endangered species protection,” Rep. Dan NewhouseDaniel (Dan) Milton NewhouseHouse passes bill to protect 'Dreamers' Immigrant Heritage Month should spur congressional action to fix immigration laws Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill MORE (R-Wash.) said in a statement upon the bill’s introduction.

Coast Guard authorization

The Senate will return on Tuesday afternoon and hold an initial vote on coast guard authorization legislation.

The vote comes after senators blocked the bill earlier this year, with environmentalists and opponents arguing it would weaken water pollution standards.

The April version of the bill included a version of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, which would exempt ships’ ballast water from Clean Water Act oversight under the Environmental Protection Agency and stop most states’ attempts to regulate ballast water.

The provision has been updated in the bill the Senate will try to advance this week. If the legislation overcomes Tuesday night’s hurdle, a final vote is expected on Wednesday.