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.

ADVERTISEMENT

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyPoll shows 25 percent view McConnell favorably, lowest among leaders in survey Rep. Omar apologizes for tweet about Israel Elise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 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 RyanOvernight Health Care: Trump calls for crackdown on surprise medical bills | Trump officials give religious exemption to foster care program | Uninsured rate at highest level since 2014 | Juul hires former Harry Reid chief of staff As new Congress begins, federal-state connections are as important as ever Trump once asked Paul Ryan why he couldn’t be ‘loyal': book 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 JordanHouse passes bill expressing support for NATO Cohen will not answer questions about ongoing probes involving Trump, GOP lawmakers say McCarthy, allies retaliate against Freedom Caucus leader 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 ScaliseGOP lawmakers offer several locations for Trump address Elise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 Democrats will push to retake vote on funding government after chaos on the floor MORE (R-La.) is slated to be the next House minority whip, while Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyElise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 Sunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal NY Times prints special section featuring women of the 116th Congress MORE (R-Wyo.) is expected to serve as House Republican Conference chair. House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersHillicon Valley: Republicans demand answers from mobile carriers on data practices | Top carriers to stop selling location data | DOJ probing Huawei | T-Mobile execs stayed at Trump hotel as merger awaited approval House Republicans question mobile carriers on data practices Washington governor announces killer whale recovery plan 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 WalkerFlorida governor suspends Palm Beach County elections supervisor Corker: Breakthrough reached in shutdown stalemate Senate in last-minute talks to find deal to avert shutdown  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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump: I will deliver State of the Union 'when the shutdown is over' Colbert starts petition for Cardi B to give State of the Union rebuttal On The Money: Shutdown Day 33 | Fight over State of the Union | Pelosi tells Trump no speech on Tuesday | Trump teases 'alternative' address | Trump adviser warns shutdown could hurt growth | Mulvaney seeks list of vulnerable programs 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 HoyerHouse does redo vote on bill to reopen government Trump tells Pelosi he plans to deliver State of the Union in House Momentum for earmarks grows with Dem majority 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 LeeOregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds Democrats vow to lift ban on federal funds for abortions Live coverage: House elects new Speaker as Dems take charge MORE (D-Calif.) and Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Shutdown Day 33 | Trump tells Pelosi he intends to deliver State of the Union from House | House GOP cancels retreat | Trump unveils new rallying cry Trump tells Pelosi he plans to deliver State of the Union in House Top Dem: ‘Highly unlikely’ State of the Union will happen amid shutdown 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 McConnellAir travel union leaders warn of 'unprecedented' safety risks as shutdown continues On The Money: Shutdown Day 33 | Fight over State of the Union | Pelosi tells Trump no speech on Tuesday | Trump teases 'alternative' address | Trump adviser warns shutdown could hurt growth | Mulvaney seeks list of vulnerable programs Demonstrators protesting shutdown arrested outside McConnell's office MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCongress: Americans in Puerto Rico still need our help Airbnb is doing the Democrats' dirty work Protecting our judiciary must be a priority in the 116th Congress MORE (D-N.Y.) are both expected to retain the top spot in their respective caucus.

With Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate ethics panel won’t penalize Booker over confidential Kavanaugh documents Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Trump tells GOP senators he’s sticking to Syria and Afghanistan pullout  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 ThuneMomentum for earmarks grows with Dem majority Rove warns Senate GOP: Don't put only focus on base Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight 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 YoungThis week: Congress heading in opposite directions on shutdown plans Senate GOP eyes 'nuclear option' for Trump nominees GOP senators propose bill to pay 'excepted' workers during shutdown MORE (R-Ind.) is running to be chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, while Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoSenate Dems introduce bill to keep DACA info private Mark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally Schumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat 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 NewhouseTrump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming Washington governor announces killer whale recovery plan GOP struggles to find right Republican for Rules 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.