This week: Jan. 6 committee’s closing act; final dash for government funding
The Jan. 6 select committee is set to make its closing argument to the public this week, as the panel holds its final presentation and releases its highly anticipated report after more than a year of investigation.
The committee’s final business meeting is scheduled for Monday, when panel members are expected to vote on criminal referrals to the Department of Justice (DOJ) — some of which will reportedly target former President Trump. Then on Wednesday, the committee’s final report will be made available to the public.
Congress this week is also staring down a Friday government funding deadline, with just five days remaining to pass a year-long spending bill and avert a shutdown ahead of the holidays.
And on Tuesday, members of the House Ways and Means Committee are scheduled to huddle behind closed doors for a meeting on Trump’s tax returns, which the group obtained last month after a multi-year legal battle.
Jan. 6 committee closes its case
The Jan. 6 committee’s final public presentation on Monday — and the release of its report on Wednesday — will mark the closing act from the panel that for months has been laying out its case to the American people that Trump was at the center of a conspiracy to keep himself in power.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the committee, told reporters that Monday’s event — set to begin at 1 p.m. — will be shorter than other hearings, which ran for around two hours.
But the presentation will, nonetheless, be closely watched, with the committee expected to vote on criminal referrals to the DOJ — a notable though largely symbolic act capping off the panel’s year-plus probe.
Multiple outlets reported on Friday that Trump will be the target of at least three criminal referrals, with charges including insurrection, obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the committee, hinted at those recommendations on Sunday.
“I think that the evidence is there that Donald Trump committed criminal offenses in connection with his efforts to overturn the election,” Schiff told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “And viewing it as a former prosecutor, I think there’s sufficient evidence to charge the president.”
Pressed on if he thinks there is sufficient evidence to charge Trump, Schiff said “I don’t know what the Justice Department has. I do know what’s in the public record. The evidence seems pretty plain to me.”
The Justice Department is not required to consider referrals sent by congressional committees, however it has indicated its interest in the committee’s evidence as the DOJ conducts its own investigation into Jan. 6.
Schiff also told CNN on Sunday that the committee will disclose its course of action for the Republican lawmakers who ignored subpoenas sent by the panel. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Reps. Scott Perry (Pa.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Mo Brooks (Ala.) all rebuffed requests received by the committee.
The California Democrat said the panel has considered censure, criminal referrals to another agency or referrals to the House Ethics Committee.
Information regarding legislative recommendations, which is part of the panel’s purview, will also likely be released on Monday, according to Thompson.
Then on Wednesday, the committee is set to release its full report to the public, which will include eight chapters, an executive summary and other “attachments,” according to Thompson.
After Monday’s meeting, the panel is expected to release materials including an executive summary of the report, details on referrals and additional information about witnesses who have appeared before the committee, according to a select committee aide.
Congress stares down government funding deadline
Congress this week is once again staring down a deadline to fund the government and avert a shutdown, after the House and Senate passed a continuing resolution last week that kicked the deadline to this Friday.
Lawmakers now have five days to pass a year-long spending measure or allow the government to run out of money.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced last week that negotiators “reached a bipartisan, bicameral framework that should allow us to finish an omnibus appropriations bill that can pass the House and Senate and be signed into law by the president.”
The deal was struck by him, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the chair of the House Appropriations Committee — largely ignoring House GOP opposition.
The specifics of that framework, however, remain unknown.
Appropriators have not yet disclosed the top-line figure for the package, which was a central sticking point throughout negotiations.
Another hangup throughout talks was the difference between domestic and defense spending, which are both expected to increase from current levels. But according to Bloomberg, the issue was rectified after Democrats said they would curb increases in domestic spending to the figures the Biden administration asked for.
The omnibus is expected to appropriate about $858 billion for defense, according to Bloomberg, which is $76 billion higher than current amounts.
The measure will also likely include the Electoral Count Act, a bill that would reform the 1887 Electoral Count Act. The measure, which was spurred by the Capitol riot, states that the vice president’s role in certifying presidential elections is ministerial, among other tenets.
Despite the bipartisan and bicameral nature of the framework crafted by Leahy, Shelby and DeLauro, the omnibus will still likely see some GOP opposition in both chambers. A number of Republicans are calling on Congress to pass another short-term funding measure that would kick the deadline to sometime next year, which would allow the incoming House GOP majority to have more say in spending for the remainder of fiscal year 2023.
House committee to meet on Trump taxes
The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to meet privately Tuesday at 3 p.m. on Trump’s tax returns, after the panel obtained access to the documents last month.
The committee sent a notice of the meeting on Friday, which says it will consider “Documents protected under Internal Revenue Code section 6103.” That law, according to The New York Times, is the statute that gave House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) the ability to get access to the returns.
The Times reported on Friday that the panel members are meeting to vote on whether or not to release portions of the tax returns.
The meeting comes less than one month after the Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal from Trump that sought to shield the House committee from obtaining his tax returns. The decision paved the way for the panel to receive access to the documents on Nov. 30.
The handover of the tax returns marked the culmination of a nearly four-year effort by House Democrats, who said they needed to investigate how the Internal Revenue Service conducts routine presidential audits.
Trump’s lawyers, however, argued that the effort was purely political.
The meeting is scheduled to occur exactly two weeks before Republicans are set to take control of the committee. That leaves Neal and House Democrats little time to determine how they want to proceed now that they have Trump’s tax returns.
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