Congress Has a Large 'to Do' List for Lame-Duck Session

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

For the next month, Congress will be occupied by several crucial items on its agenda, including funding the government, raising the debt limit, and averting a ruinous rail strike.

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But it’s what Congress won’t take up during this lame-duck session that’s more significant.

Joe Biden wanted some kind of immigration reform for the children of illegal immigrants, known as “DREAMers,” who arrived in the U.S. with their parents illegally. The Democrats know that once the GOP takes over the House, any hope for granting amnesty for the DREAMers will be gone, as will any fast-track to citizenship for them.

Groups including the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Heritage Foundation, NumbersUSA, and the America First Policy Institute have signed a letter to Congress citing the “immediate danger posed by the lame-duck session of Congress that is now underway” that could stem from Democrats pushing some kind of amnesty plan.

“Even though power is about to change hands in one chamber, various media outlets report there will be attempts to push damaging immigration legislation such as a mass amnesty and increased immigration through Congress over the next few weeks,” they say.

Former officials signed onto the letter include former acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau, former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, former acting ICE Director Tom Homan and former Customs and Border Protection Chief Mark Morgan. Also signed on include former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russ Vought and former deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli.

Both the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress have been pushing for a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants since the administration took office in early 2021, but it has so far failed due to a lack of votes and Republican support.

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In fact, there are a lot of Democrats who are wary of signing on to any kind of deal for DREAMers. It’s an issue that definitely will not get traction in the lame-duck session and will be considered effectively dead at least until Democrats reclaim all of Congress.

Another issue that probably won’t make it through Congress but is near and dear to Joe Biden’s heart is $10 billion in additional pandemic funding. Republicans rightly point out that there are still tens of billions of dollars in COVID-19 aid that the agencies have yet to spend. Biden wants a COVID slush fund to spend for other purposes than the pandemic.

CBS News:

According to a breakdown of the request provided by the White House, the $10 billion for funding to fight COVID-19 and other diseases includes $2.5 billion to ensure continued access to vaccines and therapeutics; $5 billion to support the development of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics; and $750 million to support research and treatment for long COVID, the term for cases in which symptoms linger for months or even years. The Biden administration is seeking $750 million of the $10 billion requested to restore smallpox vaccines used for the monkeypox response, and to start procuring and distributing treatment for hepatitis C and pre-exposure prophylaxis to help prevent HIV.

The issue of Ukraine spending will also receive far more scrutiny from Republicans. Biden is asking for $38 billion in assistance. Republicans are likely to give it but only after a clear-eyed look at where that money is being spent.

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The bill to fund the government is just beginning to be negotiated with the president wanting an “omnibus” spending bill that would fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, while many Republicans, with an eye on their takeover of the House in January, want a temporary “continuing resolution” that would last a couple of months.

The government is supposed to run out of money on December 16, so the issue will have to be settled by then.

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