Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
November 18, 2022
This Week in Congress
House and Senate
Lawmakers departed late yesterday for a 10-day break, leaving until December major decisions advancing must-pass legislation for FY’23 appropriations bills, the defense authorization, and overhauling a host of other policies before the end of the 117th Congress. House and Senate lawmakers return Nov. 28 for a lame duck session expected to run to at least Dec. 16, when the continuing resolution expires. Senate leaders suggested the session could spill into the following week, setting Dec. 22 as the target for lawmakers to head home.
With only 9 seats yet to be resolved, the House Republicans have won 218 seats to the Democrats 211, which shifts the control of the House to the Republicans.
House Republican Leadership Elections
This week House Republicans held leadership elections and by a vote of 188-31 elected Kevin McCarthy to be the next Speaker of the House. In January House lawmakers of both parties will vote for a new Speaker on the House floor, with the winner needing a majority of 218 votes.
House Democrats Leadership Elections
Democratic leadership elections are scheduled for November 30. This week Speaker Pelosi announced that she will not seek a leadership post in the next Congress. It is likely that the Democrats will choose New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to fill the post of minority leader. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (S.C.) stated that they will not seek leadership positions in the next Congress and both endorsed Jeffries as the next Speaker.
Senate Republican Leadership Elections
This week, Senator McConnell was re-elected as the Republicans’ Senate leader by a vote of 37-10, holding off a challenge from Rick Scott. During a closed-door meeting McConnell and Scott blamed each other for the failure of Republicans to win the majority.
Senate Democrat Leadership Elections
Senate Democrats will hold their leadership elections the week of Dec. 5. During the elections, Senator Schumer said he will nominate Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) as the Senate president pro tempore.
The Biden administration has requested a $47.7 billion emergency supplemental that would provide $37.7 billion for Ukraine and $10 billion to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic request is to prepare for new strains of the virus and developing next-generation vaccines and therapeutics, including $400 million to restore smallpox vaccines used for monkeypox response, and $350 million for distribution of treatments for Hepatitis C and PREP to prevent HIV. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development would get $1 billion to help fight the virus globally. The request can be found here:
Respect for Marriage Act
This week the Senate held a procedural vote – 62-37—moving legislation a step closer to final passage. The bill would provide federal protections for same-sex marriages. Twelve Republicans joined Democrats to advance the legislation. The vote also signals a shift in American politics and culture, demonstrating how same-sex marriage, once a politically divisive issue, has been so widely accepted in society. The House passed the Act in July on a 267-157 bipartisan vote. Since the Senate made changes to the House passed bill, the legislation will need to go back to the House for another vote before it can be signed into law by the President.
On November 16, the Senate, by unanimous consent, passed a bill designed to facilitate research on marijuana and its potential health benefits. The bill will would streamline the application process for scientific marijuana studies and remove existing barriers for researchers that frequently slow the research process. It’s the first standalone marijuana-related bill approved by both chambers of Congress. The House passed the bill in July, also by unanimous consent.
Other Legislation and Happenings Around the Nation
This week the CDC announced a funding opportunity for Public Health Crisis Response Cooperative Agreement to support state and local public health monkeypox response efforts. CDC will award up to $16 million to select jurisdictions on the approved but unfunded (ABU) list for CDC-RFA-TP22-2201. Funding will be prioritized for jurisdictions reporting the highest numbers of cases during October 2022. Funding is intended to address urgent needs and to implement monkeypox response-related activities including efforts to increase vaccine accessibility and uptake, case and cluster investigation, surveillance, testing, communication, education, and outreach. The announcement can be found here:
Companies Rush To Market At-Home Test Kits for STDs
Online shoppers can already choose from more than a dozen self-testing kits, typically ranging in price from $69 to $500, depending on the brand and the variety of infections they can detect. But, except for HIV tests, the FDA hasn’t approved STD test kits for use outside a medical setting. That leaves consumers unsure about their reliability even as at-home use grows dramatically. The article can be found here
This year’s midterms were the first nationwide elections held since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. California, Vermont, and Michigan enshrined abortion protections in their state constitutions. Kentucky voters shot down a measure to ban abortions in the state constitution. The vote does not overturn the near-total ban on abortions in Kentucky but could potentially affect the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the ban in the Kentucky Supreme Court next week.