- Congress has suspended sessions for two weeks over Thanksgiving even though important legislation remains unfinished.
- Congress must pass bills to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. military before the end of the year, in addition to passing 12 appropriations bills to fund the government.
- “If the FAA’s authorization expires, the agency could lose $50 million a day in tax revenue to facilitate safe and seamless air travel experiences,” wrote Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia.
Both houses of Congress have suspended sessions for two weeks until after Thanksgiving, even as important legislative work that must be completed before the end of the year remains unfinished.
The Senate and the House of Representatives approved a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown scheduled for Nov. 17 on Wednesday and Tuesday, respectively, the second such resolution since Sept. 30 amid efforts to pass appropriations bills for the next fiscal year. Both chambers subsequently adjourned until Nov. 27-28, even though they have not considered the next major pieces of legislation, such as the Farm Bill and the National Defense Authorization Act, which must be passed before the end of the year. (RELATED: Congress passes continuing resolution to avoid government shutdown)
Pass all 12 appropriations bills
As of this writing, Congress has not fully passed the 12 appropriations bills needed to fund the government for fiscal year 2024. Of that number, the House passed seven while the Senate only passed three, these being versions different from those of the House and requiring a conference process to proceed.
The House had previously attempted to pass appropriations bills relating to financial services, the Departments of Transportation, Labor and Health and Human Services, but they were pulled from the floor amid a lack of support from House Republicans. Some moderate Republicans have opposed spending cuts in certain programs, joining Democrats, while more conservative Republicans have insisted on larger cuts, which are separately opposed by Senate Democrats and the Biden Administration, whose support is required to turn them into law.
Congressional Republicans have strongly opposed combinatorial all appropriations bills into a single piece of legislation, known as an “omnibus,” arguing leading to runaway government spending with little accountability. Both Houses must pass at least four appropriations bills to avoid a partial government shutdown by Jan. 19 and the rest by Feb. 2, after which a full shutdown will occur.
Approval of the National Defense Authorization Act
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an annual legislation that authorizes funding for the US military, being one of the most expensive bills passed by Congress each year. It also sets rules for the armed forces, the military health system and decides where new military construction projects, which are often a big source of local employment, will be located.
The NDAA is considered “mandatory” legislation and has been enacted every year for the last 62 years. “If Congress does not approve the necessary authorizations and appropriations, then federal agencies…[will lack] funds necessary for the annual military pay increase, along with essential improvements in health care and other quality of life programs and benefits necessary for an all-volunteer force,” wrote the Military Officers Association of America.
Both the House and Senate have passed different versions of the NDAA and must negotiate a compromise bill through a “conference” process before passing it in both chambers before the end of the year. To speed up that process, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, briefly raised a hold on the resolution continued Wednesday night until Senate Democrats agreed to pass a motion to begin conference proceedings.
Section 702 Reauthorization
Section 702 The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is a provision of US law that allows the government to spy on foreign citizens who are outside the United States by accessing their email accounts, social media messages, and storage systems. in the cloud in the U.S. The program has been hailed by congressional leaders and the Biden administration as critical to national security, but has been criticized by some House Republicans, who argue that FISA safeguards support the “ militarization” of the government against political opponents.
“[I’ve heard] nothing but EXCUSES. Nothing but EMPTY PROMISES. And the time for those excuses is OVER.”
MUST SEE🔥 pic.twitter.com/Zeq9UY2qfP
— Rep. Chip Roy Press Office (@RepChipRoy) November 16, 2023
“There is no way we are going to reauthorize that in its current form, there is no possible way,” saying House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, according to The New York Times. Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida filed a resolution which called on Congress to let Section 702 expire.
“Section 702 has been used to identify and protect against threats to the national security of the United States and its allies, to include both conventional and cyber threats posed by the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Iran, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” wrote Attorney General Merrick Garland and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to congressional leaders in February, adding that “[i]“It has also become clear that there is no way to replicate the speed, reliability, specificity and knowledge of Section 702.”
Section 702 is established to expire on Dec. 31 and a bill to reauthorize it has not yet been introduced.
Reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration
Bill Introduced to Reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved by the House on July 20, but has been delayed in the Senate, amid disagreements over a rule requiring two pilots on a commercial flight to have at least 1,500 hours of experience, as well as a proposal to raise the retirement age of pilots from 65 to 67 years old. Opponents believe that both are unnecessary and hurt efforts to curb the airline pilot shortage, while pilot unions argue they are necessary For security.
The FAA is the agency that regulates all civil and commercial aviation in the United States. His authorization expired on September 30, but he was extended by the continuing resolution approved that day for three months.
Both houses of Congress must pass an FAA reauthorization bill by December 31; Otherwise, the agency will be temporarily without funds and will close several of its programs. “If the FAA authorization expires, the agency could lose $50 million per day in tax revenue to facilitate safe and seamless air travel experiences. The process of hiring and training air traffic controllers would also be disrupted, further slowing air traffic.” wrote Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia in a statement.
Pass a farm bill
The “Farm Bill” refers to legislation considered every five years that authorizes various agricultural policies to support food production in the United States. These include critical subsidies for farmers to produce grains and food, compete in international markets, obtain credit to expand their businesses, and fund the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food to low-income households.
“If the farm bill were to expire without a new bill in place or if Congress did not grant an extension to the programs, all programs would revert to the 1949 bill.” wrote Shelby Myers, an economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, which would raise the price of food for consumers, according to the Congressional Research Service.
In the continuing resolution passed Wednesday, Congress extended the authorization of the existing Farm Bill, passed in 2018, by one year, with its provisions now set to expire in 2024. However, several interest groups have indicated that a new bill is required. law to take into account changes in agricultural markets and the broader economy, such as inflation.
“[M]Much has changed in agricultural markets and in the economy in general. Inflation has made it more difficult for farmers and ranchers to maintain product coverage and keep their products at an affordable and competitive price.” wrote the National Governors Association in a letter to Congress. “A new Farm Bill should reflect these new realities.
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