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 12:04 PM
Updated: Jan 8, 2018 12:04 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."

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Confirmed Cases: 89927

Reported Deaths: 1580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
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Mobile9086191
Montgomery6249143
Madison501425
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Baldwin321023
Shelby305032
Marshall296630
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Elmore160237
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Russell12331
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Franklin119620
Limestone119613
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Autauga102420
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Jackson8283
Chambers82138
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Butler75235
Blount7363
Chilton7106
Coffee7095
Covington70920
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55224
Marion54224
Marengo52014
Clarke4869
Hale45926
Bullock43811
Perry4294
Winston42911
Wilcox4059
Monroe3914
Randolph38810
Bibb3743
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Pickens3679
Sumter36118
Lawrence3100
Washington31011
Macon30913
Crenshaw2863
Choctaw27412
Henry2453
Cherokee2427
Greene24211
Geneva2320
Clay2175
Lamar1982
Fayette1745
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
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Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 110636

Reported Deaths: 1092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby21492288
Davidson19400202
Rutherford607253
Hamilton566147
Knox403236
Williamson326922
Sumner317870
Unassigned29544
Out of TN278314
Wilson207221
Montgomery173411
Bradley171310
Sevier17135
Trousdale15726
Putnam154413
Robertson145017
Hamblen122913
Blount11207
Tipton11069
Maury10815
Washington10662
Madison91213
Bedford87110
Macon83213
Sullivan8069
Hardeman80111
Lake7490
Bledsoe6721
Loudon6533
Fayette6208
Anderson6075
Dickson5951
Gibson5672
Dyer5557
Cheatham5485
Rhea5021
Jefferson4962
McMinn48920
Lawrence4786
Obion4354
Henderson4310
Carter4275
Lauderdale4236
Coffee4172
Warren4034
Hardin4017
Cocke4001
Cumberland3796
Haywood3745
Greene3715
Monroe3669
Roane3642
Smith3633
Hawkins3624
Giles3519
McNairy3165
DeKalb3051
Franklin2864
Weakley2763
Marshall2652
Lincoln2541
Hickman2310
Carroll2283
Crockett2263
Claiborne2210
Henry2160
Wayne2161
Campbell2131
Marion2054
White1943
Chester1932
Johnson1720
Grainger1690
Polk1651
Decatur1612
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Humphreys1053
Scott1040
Grundy1012
Meigs980
Benton971
Sequatchie940
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