Mar 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Timing of major House legislation being dictated by party retreats

A hand dangling the capitol dome on string

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The House plans to adjourn Wednesday come hell or high water so that Democrats can attend an issues retreat in Philadelphia — putting a personal clock on major public debates about aid to Ukraine and avoiding a government shutdown Friday.

What they're saying: “Short of SMOD [a sweet meteor of death] or the second coming of Christ, there’s nothing that’s going to stop House leaders from going on retreat,” one senior Republican House aide told Axios in a pox on both parties' house.

  • Senate Democrats are also attending a retreat Wednesday, but it's being held in Washington and senators are expected to return for votes Thursday and, possibly, Friday.
  • A similar issues retreat for House Republicans is being held in Florida in two weeks.
  • A spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined comment.

Driving the news: The schedule for Tuesday is being driven by another point of personal privilege: the funeral for Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.), a colleague who died last month from cancer.

  • Not all members are attending, but it's changing the schedule for everyone.
  • Votes to slap additional sanctions on Russia and Belarus aren’t expected to be held until Tuesday night, at the earliest, a Democratic aide familiar with the plans told Axios.
  • The sanctions votes could even slide to Wednesday, the source said — just before Democrats are leaving for Philadelphia.

What they're saying: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday night he's yet to receive legislative text for a sanctions bill.

  • Asked if it can pass by Wednesday, he said, “I certainly hope so.”

Go deeper: Appropriators also are haggling over the legislation to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year.

  • One major issue is a White House request for supplemental funding for COVID-19 relief on top of Ukraine aid.
  • While the latter is uncontroversial, many Republicans are hesitant to provide additional coronavirus aid — or link it to Ukraine funding.
  • If Congress failed to reach a budget deal, it would lead to a shutdown or a fourth continuing resolution keeping the government open temporarily.

Reality check: Unlike their Senate counterparts, House Democrats fully control their chamber and don't have a filibuster to navigate.

  • That allows them to act unilaterally and more expediently on major legislation.
  • Still, whatever passes the House has to pass the Senate.
Go deeper