Road ahead: It’s not just impeachment week

Government funding, Pentagon authorization and a trade deal are also on the agenda

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., will have spending bills on the House floor on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., will have spending bills on the House floor on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted December 16, 2019 at 6:19pm

Seldom is a massive government funding package almost completely overshadowed on Capitol Hill.

But that is the reality with the House barreling toward the impeachment of President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Both houses have a lot to do before departing for the holidays.

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey of New York intends to bring the bills to the House floor on Tuesday.

“I’m pleased that we have reached a bipartisan agreement that will keep government open, provide the certainty of full-year funding, and make strong investments in key priorities for American communities,” Lowey said in a statement. “With higher spending levels in line with the bipartisan budget agreement, we are scaling up funding for priorities that will make our country safer and stronger and help hardworking families get ahead.”

The House is expected to pass the 12-bill spending package as two separate bundles on Tuesday.  The first contains four bills — Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services and Homeland Security — and the remaining eight are in another package. That eight-bill package will carry separate authorizing and tax legislation, including a variety of extenders and the repeal of some taxes from the 2010 health care law.

Separately, the Senate voted Monday evening to limit debate on the conference report for the final deal on the fiscal 2020 Pentagon authorization, setting up a final vote to send the bill to Trump on Tuesday.

The House approved the conference report for the $735 billion authorization measure on Dec. 11 by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, 377-48, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to thwart any filibuster attempts the following day.

The Senate will also consider judicial nominations this week. McConnell on Monday filed cloture on 13 Trump nominees to federal courts.

Aside from impeaching the president and avoiding a government shutdown, the House also plans to pass legislation for the trade agreement with Canada and Mexico known as USMCA, even as Mexico has complained about an implementing provision related to U.S. oversight of factories within that country.

Under an agreement announced Monday on the House floor, the USMCA implementing bill is eligible to be debated at any time with two hours of debate. That is expected to take place on Thursday.

The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a “mock” markup to review the terms of the trade pact on Tuesday. The agreement itself cannot be amended, but the session will allow members to express their support and opposition.

“Our purposeful efforts produced changes to the USMCA that earned the endorsement of the AFL-CIO and will set a new standard for U.S. trade agreements moving forward. Democrats secured improvements aimed at enhancing North America’s economic competitiveness and advancing the United States, Mexico, and Canada’s collective work to empower workers, protect patients’ access to affordable health care, and improve our shared environment,” Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., said when the agreement was announced.

The agreement has attracted a broad swath of supporters, though McConnell has already announced that the Senate is not expected to take up the pact until after an impeachment trial in January.

Some Senate Republicans want an opportunity to review the terms of the deal, though Democratic senators who have been foes of many past free trade agreements have already signed on.