The 115th Congress returns on Tuesday, November 13 to attempt to finish up their FY 2018 business and start to plan for a new majority in the House and a bigger one in the Senate.
By December 7, funding will run out for a handful of departments including Homeland Security and the Justice Department. It is unclear how hard the President will push for his wall which could get filibustered in the Senate even if House Republicans take one more swing at the issue before they lose power. There are also a few reauthorizations that are close including the Agriculture Reauthorization, a reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and perhaps a bigger criminal justice reform that might get considered.
The Agriculture bill has been held up by new work restrictions on SNAP recipients demanded by the House but there are also some differences in farm support programs. The work requirements won’t be coming from a new House in 2019. On the Senate side Ranking Democrat, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is returning for another six years but her counterpart and Chairman, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) will be facing reelection in two years if he runs again. All of that may result in key members wanting to possibly push a final reauthorization through so that they don’t have to start over with a new House majority.
The same could play out on the JJDPA. House Republicans may be motivated to get what they can because anything coming from the House next year will look different. Bipartisan reform of criminal justice sentencing has found traction in both houses, but it has been hindered by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. For Senate Republicans their motivation could be to not want to deal with a House led by majority Democrats.