Government affairs

Legislative Updates

114th Congress "unofficially" adjourns

The House and Senate have concluded the 114th Congress’ business, but both chambers remain in “pro-forma” session until the swearing in of the new Congress on Jan. 3. In the Senate, this is done to prevent any lame-duck appointments, such as President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Congress spent most of its lame-duck session debating government funding and ultimately, at the urging of President-elect Donald Trump, passed a continuing resolution that lasts through April. This move allows for Congress and the incoming administration to take advantage of budget maneuvering.

The incoming Trump administration also could push to use the budget reconciliation process to begin repealing the Affordable Car Act (Obamacare), a step that is expected in the first two weeks in January when budgetary measures that affect spending are dealt with.

The reconciliation process allows for expedited consideration of certain tax, spending and debt limit legislation. In the Senate, reconciliation bills are not subject to filibuster and the scope of amendments is limited, granting advantages for enacting controversial budget and tax measures.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has hinted at numerous priorities for the 115th Congress, including replacing Medicare with a voucher program, as Congress works to repeal Obamacare. Considering complicated House and Senate parliamentary rules, and with no word from the president-elect on the issue, it’s unclear whether these objectives can be achieved.

GOP leaders have highlighted specific proposals related to federal employees that they would like to address, including streamlining personnel procedures for firing federal employees; reviewing the unionized federal workforce for cost, quality and performance; and eliminating official time.

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