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Congress week ahead: Government shutdown deadline looms

Congress returns this week with just eight legislative days before a possible government shutdown.Top Republic...

Posted: Jan 8, 2018 1:04 PM
Updated: Jan 8, 2018 1:04 PM

Congress returns this week with just eight legislative days before a possible government shutdown.

Top Republican leaders huddled with President Donald Trump over the weekend at Camp David to chart the 2018 legislative agenda and prepare for the challenging midterm elections in November, but more immediately they need to figure out a budget deal before the January 19 deadline when the government runs out of money.

Republican members of Congress are pressing for an uptick in defense spending

Democrats say any increase must be matched equally with domestic programs

Bipartisan budget talks began last week, but Democrats and Republicans are still restating their long-held positions -- the GOP pressing for a significant uptick in defense spending and Democrats insisting that any increase for the Pentagon be matched with equal increase for domestic programs.

RELATED: Trump reiterates he wants DACA as long as it comes with border wall

Perhaps an even thornier issue is what to do about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which is set to expire in early March. Many progressive Democrats are pressing their leaders not to agree to any spending deal that also doesn't ensure that undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children aren't required to leave the country. Republicans want to deal with the issue separately, but say they can work together on a bipartisan plan. All eyes are on a meeting with Trump at the White House this week, where lawmakers are hoping to learn what exactly the White House will accept.

Pot protocol

There was bipartisan pushback against Attorney General Jeff Sessions' move to roll back the Obama administration's position of allowing states to determine how they handled marijuana laws.

Members of both parties blasted the move as inconsistent with Sessions' own position of deferring to states' rights. But it's unclear whether there is any real momentum for Congress to step in and pass legislation to put the power back in the hands of those states that have passed measures to legalize pot for medical and recreational purposes.

Intelligence committee

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes reached a deal with the Department of Justice for documents he requested in the Russia probe. The panel's investigation continues along stark partisan lines, with Republicans pressing to wrap up interviews while Democrats argue there is more work to be done.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, said on CNN last week that he expected former White House adviser Steve Bannon to appear before the committee soon.

Notable hearings

The House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a non binding resolution supporting the people of Iran, many of whom are protesting the current regime in Tehran.

The Senate Finance Committee will hear from Trump's nominee to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar. His nomination -- which was not held over from the last session of the Senate and had to be re-submitted by the White House -- is expected to face some pointed questions over the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and Medicaid and Medicare funding.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will also be considering the re-submission of judicial nominees, including Stuart Kyle Duncan of Louisiana for the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, and David Stras for the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Judiciary Committee hearings have gained must-watch status since the simple-yet-devastating questioning by Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican, that effectively derailed the nomination of Matthew Petersen to the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

In Duncan's case, Kennedy has provided the traditional "blue slip" approval, a process by which a nominee's home state senator turns in a blue piece of paper signifying his or her approval for a confirmation hearing to be held -- but Kennedy marked himself as "undecided" on Duncan's nomination.

During Duncan's previous appearance before the committee, Kennedy made clear that he was not consulted by the White House before Duncan's nomination -- a move that is typically part of the blue slip process -- saying Duncan's questionnaire "seems to imply that Mr. Duncan's name came from Sen. (Bill) Cassidy and me. At least from my point of view, that is not accurate."

"In truth, I don't know Mr. Duncan very well," Kennedy said in the November hearing. "I hope that he can demonstrate to me today that he is the second coming of Justice (Oliver Wendell) Holmes or Justice (Antonin) Scalia and not the second cousin of somebody who is politically connected in the Washington swamp."

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2769624

Reported Deaths: 57725
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings35194510985
Queens32876810428
Suffolk2593403697
Nassau2291983338
Bronx2142426810
New York1785074667
Westchester1494462357
Erie1283712079
Monroe1001491259
Richmond934401975
Orange63182944
Onondaga60869824
Rockland55960783
Dutchess38515513
Albany35159419
Oneida33993651
Niagara29625425
Broome28853437
Saratoga25582228
Schenectady19780248
Ulster19468293
Rensselaer17938197
Chautauqua15521197
Oswego14611138
Putnam13335101
St. Lawrence13331146
Chemung13197176
Steuben12958194
Ontario12079121
Jefferson11736108
Wayne10658105
Cattaraugus10337165
Cayuga9951114
Sullivan990390
Genesee8949146
Herkimer8587145
Clinton834948
Fulton8040115
Tompkins762561
Warren762198
Madison7614109
Livingston745977
Montgomery7406163
Washington698982
Tioga654874
Cortland619489
Allegany6191123
Columbia5880115
Orleans573096
Chenango572797
Franklin563027
Otsego557466
Wyoming551569
Greene507890
Delaware462553
Lewis431640
Seneca340069
Essex307338
Schoharie281624
Yates206134
Schuyler200720
Hamilton5253
Unassigned1482
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