This week: Lawmakers return to mourn George H.W. Bush
© Getty Images

Lawmakers are returning this week as Washington mourns former President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States and head of one of America’s most prominent political families.

Former President George W. Bush announced his father’s death in a statement Friday night, describing him as "a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.”

Bush, who passed away at 94, will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda starting on Monday, with the public able to pay their respects through 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to a joint statement from congressional leadership. A bicameral arrival ceremony is expected to be held at 5 p.m. on Monday evening.

ADVERTISEMENT
Remembrances poured in over the weekend ahead of the formal start of ceremonies that are expected to dominate much of Washington this week as the political world pays respects to Bush, who also served as director of the CIA and vice president.

“George Bush built his life on the premise that loving and serving America was simply a citizen’s duty. He fulfilled that duty time and time again, as completely as anyone could. His legacy will rank among the most distinguished statesmen our nation has ever produced,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAre Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Churches are arming and training congregants in response to mass shootings: report MORE (R-Ky.) said in a statement on Saturday.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE ordered flags at half mast for 30 days and, in a proclamation, declared Wednesday a national day of mourning. U.S. stock markets will also be closed that day.

Trump, speaking to reporters in Argentina over the weekend, called Bush a “wonderful man” and said he had spoken with former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

"He was a very fine man. I met him on a number of occasions," Trump said. "He was a terrific guy and he’ll be missed. He lived a full life and an exemplary life."

A memorial service is expected to be held Wednesday at the National Cathedral in Washington. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpEx-Melania Trump adviser raised concerns of excessive inauguration spending weeks before events: CNN The Hill's Morning Report - Trump moves green cards, citizenship away from poor, low-skilled White House seeks volunteers, musicians for Christmas celebrations MORE are both expected to attend the funeral.  

Bush’s casket will then be flown back to Texas, where he is expected to lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, beginning on Wednesday evening. A funeral service will be held at the church on Thursday at 10 a.m., according to a schedule released by the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region.

Bush is expected to be laid to rest Thursday on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Center at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Bush, according to a release from the university, will be buried at the family’s plot alongside his wife, Barbara, who passed away in April, and their daughter Robin, who passed away in 1953 at age 3.

Government funding

Bush’s death has increased the chance that lawmakers will use a continuing resolution (CR) to fund part of the government past the Dec. 7 deadline, as Washington focuses this week on mourning him.

Lawmakers have a matter of days if they wanted to get a deal on a yearlong funding agreement, after they missed the Sept. 30 end-of-the-fiscal-year deadline for seven out of the 12 individual appropriations bills.

Trump opened the door to a stopgap bill over the weekend, saying he is willing to accept an extension of up to two weeks, potentially pushing the shutdown fight up against the Christmas holiday.

"If they come to talk about an extension because of President Bush's passing, I would absolutely consider it and probably give it," Trump said, referring to lawmakers.

Trump is expected to meet with Senate Democratic leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down MORE (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiObjections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated Latest pro-democracy rally draws tens of thousands in Hong Kong Lewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' MORE (Calif.) on Tuesday, according to a source familiar. Though a topic of discussion hasn’t formally been set, they are likely to talk about the looming government funding deadline.

But both sides have remained far apart on a protracted fight on funding for Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, increasing their posturing and blame-gaming as they head toward Friday’s deadline.

Schumer has said Trump has two options that could garner the 60 votes needed to pass a funding bill in the Senate: Accept the $1.6 billion that is included in the Senate’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) bill or pass a CR for the department, which would give Trump $1.3 billion for the border.

"If President Trump wants to throw a temper tantrum and shut down some departments and agencies over Christmas, that's certainly within his power, but he has two more sensible options available to him. It would be a shame if the country suffered because of a Trump temper tantrum. It's the president's choice," Schumer said late last week.

But Republicans believe Trump would veto a bill that only included $1.6 billion, with the White House instead pushing for $5 billion, in line with the House DHS bill. Republicans have floated a two-year plan, which has been rejected by Democrats, that would give Trump $2.5 billion in funding for barriers and border security for both 2019 and 2020.

Saudi Arabia

The Senate is scrambling to an all-out brawl over a resolution that would end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen.

The chamber took a small, but significant, step last week when they voted to advance the resolution — spearheaded by Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces White House eyes September action plan for gun proposals Trump phoned Democratic senator to talk gun control MORE (D-Conn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersJoe Biden faces an uncertain path Bernie Sanders vows to go to 'war with white nationalism and racism' as president Biden: 'There's an awful lot of really good Republicans out there' MORE (I-Vt.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell, allies lean into Twitter, media 'war' Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (R-Utah) — out of the Foreign Relations Committee and to the full Senate.

The resolution requires Trump to withdraw any troops in or “affecting” Yemen within 30 days. But some senators are expected to offer changes forcing lawmakers to figure out what a final bill will look like as they prepare to take a next step of bringing the resolution up for debate — and a potentially raucous floor drama.

Supporters of the resolution and leadership are trying to negotiate a deal that would limit the number of amendments that get a vote or at least force them to be related to Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, senators are predicting a marathon floor session akin to the infamous vote-a-rama that accompany budget resolutions, where any member can force a vote on any amendment on any issue.

“Absent a consent agreement, there is a potential for unlimited vote-a-rama where we could be voting on anything from immigration reform to criminal justice reform,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy O'Rourke says he will not 'in any scenario' run for Senate MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, adding the free-wheeling votes could be “rather confusing.”

Two Senate aides said Friday that they had not yet reached a deal; one source predicted an agreement could be reached Monday.

Several Republican senators voted to advance the resolution last week because of the message it sent to the administration, instead of its actual substance. Instead, they are expected to try to substitute in their own bills.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.), who is retiring after this Congress, is working to draft a closely held amendment that, he says, would have “teeth” but let Congress “more fully express” itself.  

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham warns Trump on Taliban deal in Afghanistan: Learn from 'Obama's mistakes' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Trump meets with national security team on Afghanistan peace plan MORE (R-S.C.) says he is planning to offer a substitute proposal, which he introduced as a stand-alone bill with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), that would require sanctions within 30 days on anyone involved in journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey Oct. 2, including “any official of the government of Saudi Arabia or member of the royal family” determined to be involved.

It would also require a report within 30 days on the kingdom’s human rights record. And to help address the Yemen crisis, the bill would suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and prohibit the U.S. military from refueling Saudi coalition aircraft.

Nominations

The Senate is working through three additional nominations this week.

Senators are expected to take a procedural vote on Monday night on Bernard McNamee’s nomination to be a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Senate also needs to take final confirmation votes on Jonathan Kobes’s nomination to be a judge for the 8th Circuit and Kathleen Kraninger to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Senate kicked a final vote on Thomas Farr’s district judge nomination to this week after Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDemocrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections Bottom Line Overnight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador MORE (R-Okla.) left D.C. for family reasons. But Farr’s nomination is now effectively in limbo after Sens. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP Sen. Tim Scott says if he runs in 2022 it will be his last race When it comes to student debt, it is time to talk solutions Democrats call for Senate to return to vote on gun reform after two deadly mass shootings MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeArpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument Carbon tax shows new signs of life in Congress MORE (R-Ariz.) said they would join all 49 Democrats and oppose him.

Their opposition leaves Farr without the 50 votes needed to let Vice President Pence break a tie and confirm him. Scott, the only African-American in the Senate Republican caucus, appeared to seal Farr’s fate late Thursday afternoon when he announced his opposition to Trump’s pick.

Farr’s nomination drew intense opposition from Democrats and their outside group allies, who warn that, if confirmed, he’ll use his position as a federal judge to rule against minorities.

Scott pointed to a 1990s Justice Department investigation into Jesse Helms’s Senate campaign for mailing postcards to more than 120,000 North Carolinians, most of whom were black voters, suggesting they were ineligible to vote and could be prosecuted for voter fraud.

The Washington Post published a memo last week that outlined the Justice Department's case. Scott cited the memo as influential to his decision to oppose Farr.

"This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush was released that shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities. This, in turn, created more concerns," Scott said in a statement.

The White House hasn’t yet indicated if it will withdraw Farr’s nomination, as it did after Scott opposed Ryan Bounds’s circuit court nomination.

House Resolutions

The House is slated to vote on four resolutions this week. The first, introduced by Rep. Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastThe 9 House Republicans who support background checks Two cats visit Capitol Hill to thank lawmakers who helped end 'kitten slaughterhouse' Buzz Aldrin marks launch of Apollo 11 mission to the moon MORE (R-Fla.), is aimed at condemning the government of Bashar Assad “and its backers for their continued support of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.”

The second calls of the government of Burma to release two journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were sentenced to seven years in prison for investigating the country’s military's attacks on civilians. The measure was sponsored Rep. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotRepublican congressman hopes Trump crowd will avoid 'send her back' chants at Ohio rally Mueller declines to answer dozens of questions from lawmakers House passes annual intelligence bill MORE (R-Ohio).

Del. Madeleine BordalloMadeleine Mary BordalloThis week: Lawmakers return to mourn George H.W. Bush Guam New Members 2019 Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks MORE’s (D-Guam) resolution aimed at “reaffirming the strong commitment of the United States to the countries and territories of the Pacific Islands region” is also slated to be taken up on the floor.

Rep. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceMystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp House panel advances bill to protect elections from foreign interference MORE’s (R-Calif.) measure recognizing the importance of the United States-Republic of Korea’s role in stabilizing and providing security in the region is also expected to be taken up in the lower chamber.

Farm Bill

The House could vote on a final version of a massive must-pass farm bill as soon as this week.

Lawmakers at the center of the negotiations announced late last week that they had an agreement "in principle" on the legislation after months of behind-the-scenes negotiations that pushed the bill past the Sept. 30 expiration date for the current farm bill.

“We’re pleased to announce that we’ve reached an agreement in principle on the 2018 Farm Bill. We are working to finalize legal and report language as well as CBO scores, but we still have more work to do," Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsKobach says he's more prepared for 'propaganda' in Senate campaign Pompeo: Senate run 'off the table' Grassley gambles on drug price bill despite GOP doubts MORE (R-Kan.) and Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayTexas faces turbulent political moment Democratic Party official: Texas is 'biggest battleground state in the country' Another Texas congressman planning to retire MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowUSDA eases relocation timeline as researchers flee agency USDA office move may have broken law, watchdog says Senate Democrats see Warren, Sanders proposals as unfeasible MORE (D-Mich.) and Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonThe 9 House Republicans who support background checks Congress must work together and solve humanitarian crisis at the border GOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions MORE (D-Minn.), the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committee, respectively, said in a joint statement.

Conaway told reporters late last week that he wants a vote in the House before Dec. 7 to avoid crashing into the fight over funding the government.

In a blow to conservatives, the final agreement reportedly will not include new work requirements in the food stamps program and tighten overall eligibility on who can qualify for the federal assistance. The House-passed farm bill would have required all adults aged 18 to 59 to work at least 20 hours a week or be enrolled in a training program in order to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Democrats were adamantly against the changes to SNAP, arguing the Senate-passed version did not include the changes and they could be detrimental to the safety net relied upon by low-income earners.

"You don’t always get everything that you want,” Rep. Glenn ThompsonGlenn (G.T.) W. ThompsonDreamers-for-wall trade going nowhere in House Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg denies selling 'anyone's data' | UK Parliament releases more Facebook docs | Canada reportedly arrests Huawei CFO | Fallout from Marriott hack | Cuba rolls out internet service for mobile users Bipartisan bill would create grant program promoting cybersecurity education MORE (R-Pa.) told Erie News Now. “But this is a pretty darn good farm bill.” 

The final version of a bill is expected to include a provision, pushed for by McConnell, that would legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity.

Lawmakers allowed the farm bill to lapse at the end of September largely over disagreements on the welfare reform language.