The Hill reports, The Hill’s Morning Report — Democrats aim big before GOP takes over House:
Democrats who control both the House and Senate have ambitious to-do lists before Congress adjourns this year. What they lack are bipartisan agreements and commitments inside their party about what can or should get to President Biden’s desk in December.
Much of the president’s agenda will be blocked in 2023 by Republicans who will wield the House gavel and are eyeing the presidential sweepstakes in 2024.
[Pro-Putin Republicans] warn that U.S. funding for Ukraine’s military defense against Russia will shrink, and the [hostage takers demanding ransom say they will hold] the nation’s authority to borrow to pay its bills [hostage], it won’t get raised without a fight [i.e., a government shutdown and possible default on the debt.]
Democrats in Congress return to work today and Tuesday with a sense of urgency to exploit the lame-duck session to notch some successes while they still can. They want to fund the government before Dec. 16 without a shutdown, approve a major Pentagon blueprint that’s considered a must-pass measure, wrap a bow around funding for elections and other improvements [Electoral Count Reform Act] (Politico and The New Yorker), protect same-sex marriage by statute and even carve out a way to help so-called Dreamers who arrived undocumented in the United States years ago as children.
Donald Graham writes, Congress could act on the border and ‘dreamers’ this year:
Can the parties do the impossible in this lame-duck session of Congress by passing a bill that achieves both their priorities on this most inflammatory of issues?
The peril to both sides stems from a careless promise made by Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the likely incoming speaker of the House [maybe not]. He pledged that on his watch, no “amnesty” bill will come to the floor.
For the “dreamers” who have waited decades for congressional action to give them a chance at citizenship, and the Democrats who support them, McCarthy’s pledge means continuing to wait until at least 2025. This would be terrible for the dreamers — and bad for the rest of us, too.
Just as sincerely, Republicans want to address security along the southern border. For those who want to do something about it — as opposed to merely talking about it — McCarthy’s promise also means a two-year wait. Joe Biden, who will be president until 2025, will not sign an all-enforcement border bill. (If incoming Republicans think they can force such a bill on him by parliamentary means, they should ask McCarthy how successful he was at repealing Obamacare.)
[In] poll after poll, 70 to 75 percent of American voters favor giving Dreamers the chance to stay here, study and work — and ultimately become citizens.
Our country needs the dreamers. We desperately need nurses; since 2005, more than 180 rural hospitals have closed. Among our scholars, the No. 1 major is nursing and health care. Education majors make up another large group, and the United States also desperately needs teachers.
[G]iven that Congress has not passed an immigration bill since 1986, is it possible that lawmakers might approve one during this year’s lame-duck session? It is, and here’s why:
First look at the issue from the Republicans’ point of view. They believe that the first thing they must address in immigration law is the situation at the southern border, where last year more than 2,700,000 undocumented immigrants crossed the border. Regarding dreamers, many Republican senators and representatives say, we’d like to help them but we won’t until the border situation is fixed.
Doing something about the situation on the border is a good idea. But McCarthy’s pledge binds Republicans as tightly as it does the Democrats. If the speaker will allow no help (he would call it “amnesty”) for immigrants already in the United States to come to the floor, how will he fix the border? Does he think Congress will pass and Biden will sign an immigration bill that’s all enforcement and no relief for immigrants? Of course not.
Republican lawmakers should bring forward their best ideas to reinforce the border and also be prepared to help DACA-eligible young people and others get work permits and a chance at a green card. Give a faster path to citizenship for those who serve in health care or education and in rural or underserved communities. Allow dreamers to serve in the U.S. military.
Democrats, for their part, should be prepared to listen to ideas that would secure the southern border. The current situation appears to have hurt the party in the 2022 elections and will remain a huge problem in 2024. Here is a chance for Democrats to strengthen their immigration policy, while giving deserving people a chance to work legally in the United States — and then become citizens.
Democrats are also feeling pressure to work quickly to raise the statutory debt limit well ahead of a potentially disastrous fiscal showdown in 2023 when the cutoff of $31.4 trillion is expected to be reached. Many analysts expect that Congress won’t defuse the debt ceiling conflict this year because Republicans see political leverage [hostage taking to demand ransom] on their side (The Guardian).
In the meantime, Biden has asked lawmakers to rapidly approve $37 billion in additional funding for Ukraine against Russia (The Hill).
“We don’t need to pass $40 billion, large Democrat bills … to send $8 billion dollars to Ukraine,” [Pro-Putin] Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Democrats, like Republicans, are promoting legislative “priorities” that will have to wait for the results of future election cycles. One example is Biden’s proposed reinstatement of a federal assault weapons ban or enactment of other gun restrictions that Democrats say would respond to U.S. mass shootings.
Six employees died last week at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., when a gunman opened fire. And in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Nov. 19, a gunman killed five people and injured 17 at a popular LGBTQ nightclub (PBS).
Gun control advocate Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Sunday told CNN that the upper chamber does not have 60 votes to cut off debate and pass a federal ban on assault weapons during the lame-duck session. He said his party would nonetheless like to hold such a vote (The Hill).
The problem remains Sens. “Manchinema” and their unprincipled support for the Jim Crow relic filibuster rule. They are responsible for blocking something that a majority of Americans want. The Oct. 3-20 Gallup poll finds 57% of U.S. adults think laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict (86% of Democrats, 60% of independents, 27% of Republicans want stricter laws). This poll was before the recent Thanksgiving week mass shootings.
“But let’s see if we can try to get that number as close to 60 as possible,”Murphy continued. “If we don’t have the votes, then we’ll talk to Senator [Charles] Schumer and maybe come back next year with maybe an additional senator and see if we can do better.”
Murphy referred to the Democratic leader from New York as well as to the potential reelection of Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) on Dec. 6 against Republican challenger Herschel Walker. If Warnock wins the runoff, Democrats would have a majority with 51 seats next year.
Also not on the agenda because of Sens. “Manchinema” and their unprincipled support for the Jim Crow relic filibuster rule: extending the very successful child tax credit that was allowed to expire because of Sen. Manchin; raising the federal minimum wage which was blocked by Sen. Sinema; passing voting rights legislation which would restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law.
If Democrats do not do it now in the Lame Duck Session, Americans are going to have to wait until 2015 after Americans have elected more Democrats to the House and Senate, but without Sens. “Manchinema,” and elected a Democrat president again.