Timing of major House legislation being dictated by party retreats
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.