House Democratic leaders have cobbled together an endgame aimed at adjourning as soon as Wednesday night, though that timeline could slip if the crush of end-of-year business drags on or if the Senate scraps a bicameral deal on the Defense spending bill.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that the House still has to get through four bills before leaving town: the Defense spending bill, a short-term continuing resolution that expires on Dec. 23 or 24 to give the Senate wiggle room to pass the Defense bill, a two-month debt extension totaling about $200 billion and a roughly $75 billion jobs bill focused on infrastructure and public sector employment.
Signaling that things could take longer than House Democrats want them to, Hoyer told reporters that he wished for everybody to have a merry, happy Christmas as we all enjoy one anothers company. He said it is possible that lawmakers may have to come back Saturday or early next week to finish business.
The main reason lawmakers would have to come back next week is if the Senate changes the Defense bill after it passes the House and Members have gone home. Hoyer said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has signaled that he thinks the two chambers can reach agreement in advance.
We hope they dont modify it, which is why the Defense bill will not include many of the things that we think ought to be included. They will not be included because we cant get an agreement that Sen. Reid can get 60 votes for it. It is his hope and expectation that when we come to final agreement, he thinks hell be able to pass that in the Senate, Hoyer said.
In addition to providing funds for continuing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Defense bill will temporarily extend a number of items, including the Medicare doctor fix, the USA PATRIOT Act, the Surface Transportation Act, the Satellite bill, flood insurance and small-business loans. The bill will also extend unemployment, COBRA, state Medicaid assistance and food stamps.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.