Senate Democrats will kick off a long-anticipated lame-duck session of Congress on Monday with the swearing-in of two new Democratic senators.
Senate Democrats and Republicans return to Washington this week to hold leadership elections and vote on three bills that Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDemocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda Justice Breyer issues warning on remaking Supreme Court: 'What goes around comes around' MORE (D-Nev.) has placed on the schedule.
Senate aides expect the ceremony to take place at 4 p.m. if the offical paperwork is in order.
Coons and Manchin will be sworn in before the rest of their classmates because they were elected to serve out the terms of Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Biden pushes back at Democrats on taxes MORE and the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.).
Republican Sen.-elect Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (Ill.), who was elected to fill the remainder of President Obama’s Senate term, will have to wait for officials in Illinois to certify the results of his race. He could take the oath of office by Nov. 29.
Both parties will hold leadership elections on Tuesday morning. Democrats plan to hold the ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber. Republicans will hold theirs in the Senate Mansfield Room.
Democrats expect to reaffirm the top four members of their leadership team: Reid, Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema MORE (Ill.), Conference Vice Chairman Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (N.Y.) and Conference Secretary Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayFaith leaders call on Congress to lead the response to a global pandemic Conservation group says it will only endorse Democrats who support .5T spending plan Support the budget resolution to ensure a critical investment in child care MORE (Wash.).
As of Friday afternoon, Democratic leaders were still searching for someone to replace Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict Failed drug vote points to bigger challenges for Democrats Overnight Defense & National Security — Blinken heads to the hot seat MORE (N.J.) as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Reid must also appoint a colleague to serve as Democratic Policy Committee chairman, a post left vacant by the retirement of Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.).
Republicans expect to reelect GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump seeking challenger to McConnell as Senate GOP leader: report Budget chairman: Debt ceiling fight 'a ridiculous position to be in' Buckle up for more Trump, courtesy of the Democratic Party MORE (Ky.), Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Conference Chairman Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (Tenn.) and Policy Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Manchin-McConnell meet amid new voting rights push MORE (S.D.).
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Democrats make case to Senate parliamentarian for 8 million green cards Democrats to make pitch Friday for pathway to citizenship in spending bill MORE (Texas) is expected to serve another term as National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman.
Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoInterior reverses Trump, moves BLM headquarters back to DC Lobbying world A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate MORE (Wyo.) will hold onto his post as vice chairman of the GOP conference, according to a senior aide. Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiEmboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration Republican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee MORE (R-Alaska), who is in the midst of a legal battle over the results of Alaska’s Senate race, doesn’t plan to vote in Tuesday’s election.
On Wednesday, the Senate will hold votes to proceed to three bills: the Promoting Natural Gas and Electric Vehicles Act; the Paycheck Fairness Act; and the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Senate aides predict the Natural Gas and Electric Vehicles Act and Paycheck Fairness Act will fall short of the 60 votes needed to bring them up for consideration. A senior Senate GOP aide said the food safety bill could clear the threshold.
“It might,” said the aide, who noted that it has eight Republican co-sponsors.
If the Senate votes to begin the debate on the legislation, it could occupy the floor for a week or longer, the time it usually takes to pass even non-controversial bills in the upper chamber.
Advocacy groups supporting the bill predict it will win 60 votes on Wednesday. They expect Reid to stick with it as the business of the floor until it passes.
“It should pass; the cloture vote should be a strong one,” said Erik Olson, director of food and consumer product safety programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “We’re optimistic because you have one of the truly bipartisan bills that will be coming before the Senate.”
Durbin and Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinFCC needs to help services for the deaf catch up to videoconferencing tech Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa MORE (D-Iowa) are negotiating a compromise on the food safety bill with GOP Sens. Judd Gregg (N.H.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziWhat Republicans should demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling Senate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Biden celebrates monstrous jobs report MORE (Wyo.) and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrEmboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes NC Republican primary key test of Trump's sway The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill MORE (N.C.).
Proponents of the bill argue the broad spectrum of ideology represented by the co-sponsors bodes well for its success.
The bill also has the support of a broad coalition of businesses, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).
“I think there’s extraordinary bipartisan support for a manager’s proposal,” said Scott Faber, vice president of federal affairs at GMA, in reference to the language being negotiated by Durbin, Enzi and other lawmakers.
Faber warned, however, that Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinRepublicans caught in California's recall trap F-35 fighter jets may fall behind adversaries, House committee warns Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Calif.) could derail a possible compromise by attaching an amendment to the bill banning bisphenol-A from food and beverage containers. Studies have linked BPA to health problems such as cancer.
If Reid decides to stay on the food safety bill, it could occupy the Senate floor for more than a week. That would make it the pending business for next week and the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 3, when the Senate returns from a one-week Thanksgiving Day recess.
Spending up to a week — or longer — on the food safety bill would compress the time left to pass other legislative priorities on the lame-duck agenda, which may stretch until Dec. 17.
Democratic senators held a conference call the Wednesday after Election Day and agreed to make extending middle-class income tax rates the highest priority of December, according to Reid.
Senate Republicans, however, have balked at the prospect of extending tax rates for families earning below $250,000 but allowing them to increase for those making above that level. GOP lawmakers saying raising taxes for incomes above a quarter-million dollars would hurt many small businesses during tough economic times.
It promises to be the toughest political fight of the lame duck.
The tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 that passed under President George W. Bush are due to expire by the end of the year.
Labor unions and liberal advocacy groups will push for the Senate to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits, which are due to begin running out at the end of November. Doctors groups will press lawmakers to extend a freeze to scheduled cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBiden nominates Nicholas Burns as ambassador to China Cryptocurrency industry lobbies Washington for 'regulatory clarity' Bottom line MORE (D-Mont.) hopes to pass a package extending tax provisions such as the research and development tax credit and a tax break for businesses that earn income from overseas financing operations, among other items.
Lobbyists who are tracking the bill say that Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) wants to pay for the legislation by raising taxes on carried interest, which is the portion of an investment’s profit that is taken by fund managers as compensation.
Former Rep. Jim McCrery (La.), who served as ranking Republican on the Ways and Means panel, predicted that Republicans would block the package of tax extenders if Democrats tried to raise carried interest taxes to offset its cost.
“Republicans have never wanted to pay for extenders,” he said. “Republicans have said you shouldn’t raise taxes to prevent a tax increase.”
McCrery said Republicans believe that allowing business tax relief provisions to expire is the same as increasing taxes.
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the chairman of the upper chamber's Appropriations Committee, is putting together an omnibus spending package of bills to fund the government. Inouye wants to give Reid the option of passing new appropriations bills to keep the government funded in fiscal 2011.
The alternative would be to pass a stopgap spending measure that keeps rates frozen at 2010 levels. To entice Republican support, Inouye has set the funding levels for the appropriations bills near levels suggested by Sens. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE (R-Ala.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillRepublicans may regret restricting reproductive rights Sunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect Giuliani to stump for Greitens in Missouri MORE (D-Mo.), which are about $20 billion less than what Obama requested, according to Senate aides.