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 asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill Trump's sharp words put CDC director on hot seat 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 RyanKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates 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 resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus Republicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats Trump, GOP seek to rebut Democratic narrative on night one 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 ScaliseHouse GOP slated to unveil agenda ahead of election House panel details 'serious' concerns around Florida, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin elections Scalise hit with ethics complaint over doctored Barkan video MORE (R-La.) is slated to be the next House minority whip, while Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Cheney asks DOJ to probe environmental groups | Kudlow: 'No sector worse hurt than energy' during pandemic | Trump pledges 'no politics' in Pebble Mine review Cheney asks DOJ to probe environmental groups  Press: The big no-show at the RNC MORE (R-Wyo.) is expected to serve as House Republican Conference chair. House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersHillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video Top House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing More than 100 lawmakers urge IRS to resolve stimulus payment issues 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 WalkerMike Johnson to run for vice chairman of House GOP conference The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Woodward book revelations rock Washington The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Facebook — Trump, Biden duel in final stretch | Vaccine trial on pause after recipient's 'potentially unexplained illness' | Biden visits Michigan | Trump campaign has 18 events in 11 states planned in the next week 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 PelosiPelosi: Ginsburg successor must uphold commitment to 'equality, opportunity and justice for all' Bipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Pelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg 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 Democrats postpone vote on marijuana decriminalization bill Democrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep 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 LeeSteph, Ayesha Curry to be recognized by the Congressional Hunger Center Democrats unveil plan declaring racism a public health issue With Biden, advocates sense momentum for lifting abortion funding ban MORE (D-Calif.) and Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesPelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief Races heat up for House leadership posts Postmaster general earned millions from company with ties to Postal Service: report 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 McConnellObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg Ginsburg in statement before her death said she wished not to be replaced until next president is sworn in Democrats call for NRA Foundation to be prohibited from receiving donations from federal employees MORE (D-N.Y.) are both expected to retain the top spot in their respective caucus.

With Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection Airline job cuts loom in battleground states 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 ThuneWhat Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump contradicts CDC director on vaccine, masks 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 YoungSenate GOP eyes early exit Why the US should rely more on strategy, not sanctions Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump MORE (R-Ind.) is running to be chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, while Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoDemocratic Senate campaign arm raised nearly M in August VA problems raise worries about mail slowdown, prescriptions Cortez Masto touts mail-in voting in convention speech 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 NewhouseThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Khanna says President Trump threatening violence against US citizens; Trump terminating relationship with WHO GOP lawmaker introduces bipartisan guest worker bill Overnight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency's budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of 'playing politics' over Yucca Mountain 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.