The Capitol is seen early Monday, November 14. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
As they return from weeks of campaigning for the midterm elections, lawmakers face a jam-packed legislative to-do list, with Democratic leaders eager to bring several bills to the floor during the lame duck session – the period after the midterms and before the new Congress begins.
Here’s what the busy agenda includes:
Funding the government: Congress passed a short-term funding bill in September that is set to expire Dec. 16, making funding the government the number one priority for Congress when they return from recess.
Because the legislation must be passed, it could attract additional measures that Democrats want to clear during the lame duck session. For example, additional financial support for Ukraine. Democrats also want more funding for the Covid-19 pandemic, but Republicans are not likely to support that request. Democrats may also seek more money for the Department of Justice investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Defense bill: Congress also has to pass the defense bill. Consideration of the wide-ranging bill could spark debate and a push for amendments over a variety of topics, including whether to punish Saudi Arabia for its recent decision to cut oil production.
Confirming Biden-nominated judges to federal bench: Senate Democrats will also continue confirming judges to the federal bench nominated by President Joe Biden, a key priority for the party.
Same-sex marriage vote in the Senate: In mid-September, the chamber punted on a vote until after the November midterm elections as negotiators asked for more time to lock down support – a move that could make it more likely the bill will ultimately pass the chamber. Schumer has vowed to hold a vote on the bill, but the exact timing has not yet been locked in. Democrats have pushed for the vote after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, sparking fears that the court could take aim at same-sex or inter-racial marriage in the future.
Electoral Count Act: Votes are likely on bipartisan legislation that would make it harder to overturn a certified presidential election, a response to former President Donald Trump’s efforts to block the 2020 election results, which led to the siege of the Capitol. It is supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. If the bill passes the Senate, it would also need to clear the House, which in September, passed its own version of the legislation.
Debt limit: It’s not yet clear when exactly the nation will run up against the debt limit and it appears unlikely for now that Congress will act to raise it during the lame-duck session, especially as other must-pass bills compete for floor time. Congress does not need to raise the nation’s borrowing limit until sometime next year, but there’s been some internal debate over whether Democrats should try to raise before the end of this year, especially if Republicans wind up in control of the House.
CNN’s Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.