Come January, the GOP will secure the gavel in the House, while the Democrats will retain a majority in the Senate. Before their power is diminished, Democrats are rushing to address the debt limit, get more funding for the war in Ukraine, and codify same-sex and interracial marriage despite neither being illegal, reports The Guardian.
"We are going to try to have as productive a lame-duck session as possible," Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said during a press conference. "It's going to be heavy work, long hours to try and get much done."
On November 13, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she wants to see Congress approve a debt ceiling increase in the upcoming "lame duck" session, which is the session after new representatives are elected, but before they take office.
"We want to see the debt ceiling get done. If it got done in the lame duck, that would be great, as far as I'm concerned," Yellen said to reporters at the G20 summit meetings in Bali, Indonesia, according to US News.
"This economic scenario is cataclysmic… The downturn would be comparable to that suffered during the financial crisis" of 2008, said a report by Moody's Analytics which predicted failure to raise the ceiling could wipe out $15 trillion in wealth and cost as many as 6 million jobs.
Schumer last week said that he wants to "get a debt ceiling done in this work period," but acknowledged that it would be virtually impossible without bipartisan support. On the same day, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that he didn't think Congress would work on the debt ceiling until "sometime next year."
Currently, the statutory debt limit is $31.4 trillion, an amount that may be too little if the legislature wants to keep borrowing money next year, according to projections by the Bipartisan Policy Center. In separate interviews last month, Republican Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Jim Banks, Adrian Smith, and Jason T. Smith all said they plan to use the raising of the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip to demand various changes to federal law, reports The Washington Post.
Also on the docket for the lame-duck session is approving more funding for Ukraine, which has already received $54.43 billion in non-military aid from the US, according to the Institute for the World Economy.
While multiple congressional Republicans call for a forensic audit of the aid sent to Ukraine to help them fight back against Russia, Joe Biden's White House has asked Congress to approve another $37 billion, reports the Associated Press.
Fears of Republicans using their newfound power in the House next year could motivate Democrats to try and pass another package for Ukraine in the lame-duck session, says the Guardian. Rep. McCarthy, who could be the next speaker of the House, has already signaled that Republicans would use their majority to restrict additional spending on the war.
Also in the chamber is the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill to codify gay and interracial marriages, neither of which are illegal in any part of the US.
"Passing the Respect for Marriage Act is no longer a matter of if but only of when," Schumer said earlier in the month.
The Senate is expected to take a final vote on the matter when the chamber returns after the Thanksgiving recess.
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