Lame-duck Congress works to set stage for incoming President Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) — The lame-duck Congress is gaveling in for its final work session of 2016, and its last under President Barack Obama, as lawmakers face a Dec. 9 deadline for spending legislation to keep the government running.
Republican leaders want to pass a short-term spending bill to extend existing funding levels into next spring, allowing a new President Donald Trump the opportunity to play a bigger role in crafting agency budgets.
Congress also is trying to finalize legislation to address lead-tainted water in Flint, Michigan, and pass a bipartisan bill to promote medical research and innovation. And House Democrats will be voting in a new leadership team Wednesday after a delay sought by lawmakers angry over Democrats’ poor showing in this month’s federal elections. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California is expected to prevail over Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, but she has promised some changes meant to give newer lawmakers a bigger voice in the Democratic caucus, which has been led for years by the same aging lawmakers and committee chairmen.
A number of other odds and ends await action as well. And throughout, GOP leaders in the House and Senate will be working with Trump’s transition teams to craft an agenda for next year, when Republicans will control both chambers of Congress and the White House for the first time in a decade.
“We’ve got a lot to do,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Monday.
Work on 11 of the 12 annual agency spending bills has sputtered and a stopgap spending measure is keeping the government running until Dec. 9. Republican leaders have decided to punt the remaining measures into next year, in part because they may have better chances of winning additional Pentagon spending from the incoming Trump administration. Another temporary spending bill is in the works that would keep the government open until the end of March or later.
A popular water projects measure — including $220 million to help Flint, Michigan and other cities repair aging water systems that are poisoned by lead — is in House-Senate talks.