Reporter’s Pocket book: A warning for Congress after the November midterms

I ought to warn you now.

Take away the goofy skeletons dangling out of your porches for Halloween. Return the Halloween costumes to the rental store – be they Dani from “Hocus Pocus,” Harley Quinn or one thing from “Stranger Issues.” 

Feed your jack-o’-lantern to the squirrels. And simply go forward and devour all of the “enjoyable dimension” Snickers, Reese’s Cups and Nestle Crunch bars. You’re going to want the sugar.

Swap the whole lot Halloween out for Christmas.

If you happen to’re a lawmaker or work on Capitol Hill as an aide or a journalist, it’s possible you’ll as nicely plan on Congress canceling Christmas this yr. So if you happen to’re going to get Christmas in, forgo the ghouls and goblins of Halloween this month and roll Yuletide. 


Enhance a Christmas tree. Deck the halls. Grasp the stockings. Go caroling. It’s possible you’ll get the side-eye from trick-or-treaters if you happen to’re belting out “It Got here Upon A Midnight Clear.” However caroling in October is certain so much hotter than the center of December.

Now we have written on this area that two months on the calendar are all the time pure mayhem in the case of Congress: August and December.

That is ironic as a result of the Home and Senate schedule themselves to be out of session for many of these months. 

It nearly by no means occurs.

The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen behind an Engelmann spruce through the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

The Senate performed round the clock weekend classes in early August this previous yr to go the Democrats’ well being, tax and local weather package deal. The Home then returned to session in mid-August to sync up with the Senate. 

The Home is scheduled to chop city this yr for the vacations on Dec. 15. That’s already laughable as a result of lawmakers simply permitted an interim spending invoice to keep away from a authorities shutdown this fall which runs by way of Dec. 16. Everybody is aware of that the Home and Senate will doubtless be rattling round, attempting to approve an omnibus spending package deal – or possibly even one other short-term Band-Help, proper up till the final minute on Dec. 16. And this in all probability means lawmakers are in session the weekend earlier than Christmas if not the week after Christmas. In truth, one senior congressional supply steered that the present, 116th Congress would blow by way of New Yr’s – proper up till the ultimate moments when this Congress expires at 11:59:59 a.m. on Jan. 3. 

Is that sufficient stress for you?

I informed you to maintain the Snickers and Reese’s Cups round. Stress consuming the Halloween sweet now will undoubtedly assist with a Christmas Congress – although it could not help together with your waistline.

Right here’s why issues shall be so hectic.

For starters, an enormous class of incoming lawmakers will filter into Capitol Hill in mid-November after the election. It’s attainable the election could even drag on for a bit with uncalled races and even challenges to outcomes. Bear in mind, that is the put up Jan. 6 riot world wherein American politics now operates. The Senate is 50/50. Brace your self. It’s attainable there may very well be one other runoff for Georgia’s Senate seat identical to in January of final yr. Georgia requires a runoff if neither Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., nor GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker secures 50.1 % of the vote. The final runoff got here days after the brand new Congress started. This one will unfold Dec. 6. It’s attainable {that a} December runoff – identical to the one which elected Warnock – might determine management of the Senate.

It’s commonplace for Georgia’s Senate contests to go to runoffs. The state noticed post-election day runoffs for Senate in 1992 and 2008.

Everybody appears to assume that Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is in good condition to change into majority chief if the GOP captures management of that chamber. However anticipate former President Trump and Trump-aligned Republican senators to precise displeasure in McConnell if Republicans aren’t in cost in 2023. 

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell
(Getty Pictures)

Anticipate a turnover on Capitol Hill with an exit of longtime congressional arms packing up after both dropping or retiring. Then, there are the scores of bewildered new faces getting misplaced within the Cannon Tunnel as they attempt to discover a assembly room within the Capitol basement.


There shall be added intrigue among the many freshman class at their fall orientation if voters elect controversial candidates like Republican North Carolina Home nominee Bo Hines or GOP Ohio Home hopeful J.R. Majewski.

However a good larger story might supersede the whole lot on Capitol Hill: the way forward for Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Does she keep or does she go? Who succeeds Pelosi as the highest Democrat within the Home if she departs? There’s a protracted record of latest blood who aspire to grab the management reins: Home Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Vice Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Any departure of Pelosi represents a tectonic shift on Capitol Hill. That’s to say nothing of what occurs to Home Majority Chief Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. The triumvirate of Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn has led Home Democrats for years.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy and Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(Getty Pictures)

After all, the autumn might additionally see the potential rise of Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to speaker if the GOP wins the bulk. Anticipate the congressional press corps to pepper McCarthy and different Republicans with advert nauseam questions on whether or not the brand new majority will attempt to impeach President Biden, impeach Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas or go after retiring White Home chief medical officer Anthony Fauci.

Home Republicans will pledge to finish proxy voting. And there shall be a number of drama over the Republican brass seating controversial Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., on committees.

We haven’t even gotten to the legislative stuff Congress must do through the lame duck session.


The Senate will shortly delve right into a debate in regards to the annual protection coverage invoice. Anticipate amendments over funding the warfare effort in Ukraine, coping with Saudi Arabia and if the Pentagon ought to reinstate service personnel who have been fired or disciplined as a result of they refused to take the COVID vaccine.

Don’t overlook that some lawmakers have steered the protection invoice might (might) be the legislative automobile for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to lastly go his deal to expedite vitality permits and approve a pipeline in Virginia and West Virginia. 

The Senate might additionally vote on a invoice to codify same-sex marriage. Laws is banging round to probably ban lawmakers and senior congressional workers from buying and selling shares. A invoice to modernize the method for certifying the Electoral Faculty outcomes has bipartisan help and can doubtless transfer by way of Congress late this yr. 

We haven’t even gotten to the one invoice Congress MUST sort out within the lame duck session: a invoice to keep away from a authorities shutdown in mid-December. Congressional Democrats would favor to approve what’s referred to as an “omnibus” spending invoice. That measure would mix all 12 annual spending payments collectively and run the federal government till Sept. 30, 2023 – the tip of the federal government’s fiscal yr.

But when Republicans seize management of the Home, Senate or each, it’s extremely doubtless they’ll push for a shorter spending package deal that avoids a right away shutdown and punts just some weeks into the brand new yr. If Republicans management Congress, they will instantly attempt to implement their spending priorities relatively than the Democrats. That’s why Democrats demand an omnibus invoice. A Democratic spending plan would stay in place longer – even when Republicans flipped one or each chambers of Congress.

A brief-term, GOP spending invoice would additionally dare President Biden to veto their plan. A brand new Home Republican majority would embrace a right away showdown with the president to flex their political muscle tissue within the new Congress.

Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi applaud as President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, April 28, 2021, in the U.S. Capitol.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi applaud as President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, April 28, 2021, within the U.S. Capitol.
(Melina Mara/The Washington Submit by way of AP, Pool)

Lawmakers met by way of the vacations in late 2020 and into the early days of 2021 with no break. That paled compared to the Home and Senate assembly through the holidays in 2012 and 2013. Then-Vice President Biden got here to the Capitol round 8:30 p.m. on New Yr’s Eve in 2012 for negotiations so Congress might keep away from what was then termed the “fiscal cliff.” The Senate started a vote sequence after 2 a.m. on New Yr’s Day, 2013. The Home adopted through the daylight later that Jan. 1 – stretching into the wee hours of Jan. 2.

With the whole lot that’s on the books, it’s attainable lawmakers might endure comparable congressional calisthenics this vacation season.


Commerce in Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash” for Mariah Carey’s “All I Need for Christmas Is You” sooner relatively than later. Ditch Linus ready for the Nice Pumpkin to come up and watch Charlie Brown hauling house a rinky dink Christmas tree.

Christmas comes however yearly. If you happen to want a bit Christmas on Capitol Hill, get it in now.

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