Congress reconvenes this week after the Thanksgiving recess to tie up the remainder of the lame duck session. Bipartisan negotiations continue to pull together an omnibus spending package before current federal funding expires Dec. 11. Republican leaders remain frustrated with President Obama’s executive order that would allow roughly 5 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States temporarily and are seeking possible measures to block the order. It is unclear whether there are budgetary actions that could defund the agency responsible for executing the president’s order.
Other legislation for consideration before the end of the term includes defense authorization; funding to train Syrian rebels to combat the Islamic State; a $450 billion bipartisan agreement to extend tax breaks, which President Obama has threatened to veto because it excludes breaks for the middle class; and several nominations, including a replacement for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who resigned last week. The House is also expected to take up the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act – a noncontroversial bill with bipartisan support that would assist individuals with disabilities by creating tax-exempt savings accounts to cover basic life expenses.
In committee business, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing titled, The Future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is currently authorized through October 2015, however many lawmakers and organizations supporting CHIP, including America’s Essential Hospitals, have advocated for extending the program’s funding before the end of the current calendar year. Although discussions are under way about CHIP extension measures, it appears unlikely that a funding extension will occur during the lame duck session.