Capitol Hill Update: November 14, 2016


The House and Senate are both in session this week.


Much of the attention this week in the House will be directed at leadership elections. Republicans will vote for their leaders in the 115th Congress, which begins on January 3, on Tuesday, November 15. The Republican Study Committee will hold its election Thursday, November 17. FreedomWorks has endorsed Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) to succeed Chairman Bill Flores (R-Texas).

Democrats will vote on Thursday, November 17. Some members of the Democratic conference are, however, pushing to delay leadership elections, which has lead to speculation that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may have some dissent in her ranks.

While leadership elections will be the topic of discussion, especially with new and unexpected political realities, House Republican leaders will begin crafting legislation, either a continuing resolution or an omnibus, to fund the government after December 9. The most likely scenarios are a continuing resolution that will fund the government into the early spring, to allow the Trump administration the chance to put its priorities in place in its first year, or one that will fund the government through September 30, in case the incoming administration isn’t ready to focus on its priorities. A continuing resolution that expires in the spring will likely coincide with consideration of a debt ceiling increase.

As far as action on legislation, the House will consider several bills this week, many of which will be brought up under suspension. One of the bills on the calendar for Thursday is H.R. 5982, the Midnight Rules Relief Act. Introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the Midnight Rules Relief Act "amends the Congressional Review Act to allow Congress to consider a joint resolution to disapprove multiple regulations that federal agencies have submitted for congressional review within the last 60 legislative days of a session of Congress during the final year of a President’s term. Congress may disapprove a group of such regulations together (i.e., ‘en bloc’) instead of the current procedure of considering only one regulation at a time."

Already, the Obama administration has issued 600 major regulations — those with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more — at a minimum cost of $743 billion. The twilight of an administration is usually an active time for federal regulatory agencies, so the Midnight Rules Relief Act will provide Congress with greater latitude to strike down these regulations.


The Senate is meeting in pro forma session on Monday. Both party conferences will hold leadership elections for the 115th Congress on Wednesday, November 16. On the Republican side, leadership is expected to remain the same. With the retirement of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will rise to minority leader. There could be a battle brewing for minority whip between Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Durbin has served as minority whip since 2005.