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 McCarthyTrump plots post-Mueller payback Schiff says Dems to charge ahead with Trump investigations Winners and losers from Mueller's initial findings 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 RyanFormer Dem candidate says he faced cultural barriers on the campaign trail because he is working-class Former House candidate and ex-ironworker says there is 'buyer's remorse' for Trump in Midwest Head of top hedge fund association to step down 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 JordanRaskin embraces role as constitutional scholar Winners and losers from Mueller's initial findings Jordan: Mueller report should end congressional investigations into Trump 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 ScaliseScalise moves forward with plan to force vote on 'Abortion Survivors' act Senate gears up for Green New Deal vote This week: Congress set for next stage of Mueller probe fight MORE (R-La.) is slated to be the next House minority whip, while Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyGOP lawmakers: House leaders already jockeying for leadership contests Pentagon: Trump's 'cost plus 50' plan hasn't been discussed with Europe Liz Cheney: Dems are 'enabling anti-Semitism' MORE (R-Wyo.) is expected to serve as House Republican Conference chair. House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration GOP pushes back on net neutrality bill at testy hearing Hillicon Valley: Dems renew fight over net neutrality | Zuckerberg vows more 'privacy-focused' Facebook | House Dems focus on diversity in Silicon Valley | FBI chief warns of new disinformation campaigns 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 WalkerTrump keeps tight grip on GOP Republicans up for reelection fear daylight with Trump GOP lawmaker offers bill letting NCAA athletes profit from their image 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 PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Democrats face dilemma after Mueller probe ends Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar 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 HoyerOmar controversy looms over AIPAC conference Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar Hoyer says AIPAC remarks were 'misinterpreted' 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 LeeDem support grows for allowing public funds to pay for abortions Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris receives endorsement from 6 home-state mayors MORE (D-Calif.) and Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesTop Dem: 'Certainly a possibility' that Congress will call Barr, Mueller to testify publicly Omar controversies shadow Dems at AIPAC Pelosi rejects any classified briefings on Mueller 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Senate GOP eyes probes into 2016 issues 'swept under the rug' Senate gears up for Green New Deal vote MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar MORE (D-N.Y.) are both expected to retain the top spot in their respective caucus.

With Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Senate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks GOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9 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 ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Congress should take action to stop unfair taxation of the digital economy The fear of colorectal cancer as a springboard for change 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 proposes constitutional amendment to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats Trump UN pick donated to GOP members on Senate Foreign Relations panel Overnight Defense: Senate breaks with Trump on Yemen war | Shanahan hit with ethics complaint over Boeing ties | Pentagon rolls out order to implement transgender ban | Dem chair throws cold water on Space Force budget MORE (R-Ind.) is running to be chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, while Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Dems put spotlight on diversity in tech 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 NewhouseImmigration groups press for pairing Dreamer benefits with border security Trump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming Washington governor announces killer whale recovery plan 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.