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 McConnellMaher goes after Manchin: 'Most powerful Republican in the Senate' Supreme Court confounding its partisan critics Why the Democrats need Joe Manchin MORE (R-Ky.) said in a statement on Saturday.

President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' 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 TrumpJill Biden, Kate Middleton visit school together in first meeting Jill Biden wears 'LOVE' jacket 'to bring unity' to meeting with Boris Johnson White House gets back to pre-COVID-19 normality 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 SchumerChuck SchumerIt's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda DOJ to probe Trump-era subpoenas of lawmaker records Democrats demand Barr, Sessions testify on Apple data subpoenas MORE (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNew Alzheimer's drug sparks backlash over FDA, pricing Sunday shows preview: Biden foreign policy in focus as Dem tensions boil up back home It's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda 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 MurphyAntsy Democrats warn of infrastructure time crunch 'The era of bipartisanship is over': Senate hits rough patch Senate gun background check talks hit wall MORE (D-Conn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersSocially-distanced 'action figure' photo of G7 leaders goes viral Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema Overnight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale MORE (I-Vt.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot Matt Stoller says cheerleading industry shows why antitrust laws are 'insufficient' Senate chaos: Johnson delays exit as votes pushed to Friday 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 CornynBipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua Bipartisan Senate group announces infrastructure deal McConnell: 'Good chance' for infrastructure deal after talks unravel 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 CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  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 GrahamProgressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema GOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Lindsey Graham: Dismissal of Wuhan lab leak theory cost Trump 2020 election 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 InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Citizens' Climate Lobby - Biden floats infrastructure, tax concessions to GOP Overnight Defense: Pentagon pitches 5B budget | Kamala Harris addresses US Naval Academy graduates Pentagon pitches 5B budget with cuts to older weapons MORE (R-Okla.) left D.C. for family reasons. But Farr’s nomination is now effectively in limbo after Sens. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain Black Republican advocates his case for CBC membership Scott: 'Lot of work left' in police reform talks MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Trump looms large over fractured Arizona GOP Why Republican politicians are sticking with Trump 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 MastHouse GOP fights back against mask, metal detector fines Massie, Greene trash mask violation warnings from House sergeant at arms House rejects GOP effort to roll back chamber's mask mandate 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 ChabotFresh hurdles push timeline on getting China bill to Biden READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit 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 RoyceCalifornia was key factor in House GOP's 2020 success Top donor allegedly sold access to key politicians for millions in foreign cash: report Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year 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 RobertsSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 Lobbying world MORE (R-Kan.) and Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayIf Congress can't work together to address child hunger we're doomed Ex-Rep. Mike Conaway, former aide launch lobbying firm Thompson named top Republican on Agriculture MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate crafts Pelosi alternative on drug prices Lobbying world Schumer tactics on China bill reveal broader trade strategy MORE (D-Mich.) and Collin PetersonCollin Clark Peterson Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Six ways to visualize a divided America On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 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. ThompsonStefanik shake-up jump-starts early jockeying for committee posts READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Business groups scramble to forge ties amid race for House Agriculture chair 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.