The Political Report 9/9/20

 In Political Report

Main Story: Four Weeks Remain before FY2021 Begins

Congress returns from its August break with the end of FY2020 rapidly approaching, a November election looming, and no real progress on any number of significant pieces of legislation (COVID-19 relief, appropriations bills, or the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA]). However, over the weekend Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have an agreement to pass a “clean” continuing resolution that would fund the government until December. Though the White House has a track record of reneging on various agreements, it is unlikely that there will be changes that would risk a shutdown with an election only 56 days away. While there may be some hemming and hawing, particularly if there’s eventually movement on a COVID-19 relief bill, it seems likely that the new fiscal year will start with minimum fuss in October.

However, in terms of the heavier lifts, Congress appears to be no closer to coming to an agreement on eventual appropriations bills or even a COVID-19 relief bill. As of Monday, September 7, Senate Republicans were working to come to agreement on a “skinny” relief bill that they would attempt to pass this week. However, that bill appears to still lack the necessary 50 votes within the Republican caucus for passage. Even if it does get a majority of the Republican caucus to vote for it, both House and Senate Democrats, who will be required to pass a bill, have already announced their opposition. Talks between Speaker Pelosi and the White House have seemingly stalled and, absent some major shift in the next month, it appears likely no additional COVID-19 relief will be passed prior to the election.

On the appropriations front, it is likely that progress will only be announced after the election. The House has passed most, though not all, of its appropriations bills and may yet pass a final minibus to complete all twelve (though passing the Homeland Security bill would risk some tricky amendment votes, making it somewhat dicey close to November). The Senate has, as of yet, failed to pass a single bill and it seems increasingly likely that they will wait until after the election to bring forward legislation. We will continue to monitor this, but progress is likely to be slow until December.

House Activity

The House will hold committee events, but will not have any floor votes.

Senate Activity

The Senate will attempt to pass a COVID-19 relief package, but only if the Senate Republican caucus comes to agreement on a bill. Otherwise it will proceed with negotiations.

Congressional Defense Activity

  •  HFAC
    • 9/9 “Egypt: Trends in Politics, Economics, and Human Rights,” Subcommittee on Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism Hearing, WebEx, 2pm
    • 9/10 “Protecting Democracy During COVID-19 in Europe and Eurasia and the Democratic Awakening in Belarus,”, Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment Hearing, WebEx, 11am
  • SFRC
    • 9/9 “Update on Eastern Europe,” Full Committee Hearing, SVC-217, 11am
  • SASC
    • No hearings for this week
  •  HASC
    • No hearings for this week
  •  SAC-D
    • No hearings for this week
  •  HAC-D
    • No hearings for this week
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