WASHINGTON — Congress is focused this week on negotiating a government funding deal and determining whether bipartisan consensus can be reached to enact any additional COVID-19 relief before year's end.
Those fiscal negotiations will continue among top appropriators, congressional leaders and their staffs behind the scenes while the House and Senate work through their end-of-session to-do lists on the floor.
The party margin of the Senate will change, likely by Wednesday. Arizona on Monday certified the victory of Democrat Mark Kelly over Republican Sen. Martha McSally, paving the way for Kelly's swearing-in.
Meanwhile, the House Democratic Caucus on Thursday will finish selecting its leadership team for the 117th Congress with the election for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair. Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York and Tony Cardenas of California are running to lead the campaign arm.
Also on Thursday, the caucus will hold elections for open chairmanships on the Appropriations, Agriculture and Foreign Affairs panels. The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee will meet earlier in the week to hear from the candidates and make its recommendations to the caucus.
The House Republicans' Steering Committee is meeting Tuesday and Wednesday to hear pitches from candidates hoping to slot into vacant ranking member slots on committees. The Steering panel will make recommendations to the full Republican Conference, which will vote to ratify the recommendations next week.
The main bill on the House floor this week is a measure to decriminalize marijuana and provide a process for expunging marijuana-related convictions. The chamber will also take up several bills under suspension of the rules, including a bill to ban breeding and private ownership of big cats that was featured in the infamous Netflix show "Tiger King."
The Senate is continuing its push to confirm nominees, and its committees will be busy this week marking up a social media regulation bill and hearing from Trump administration economic officials.
Congress has until Dec. 11 to pass a bill to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. Appropriators are hoping to reach agreement as soon as this week on an omnibus measure with new fiscal 2021 spending policy to avoid the need for another continuing resolution extending fiscal 2020 provisions.
The leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees reached agreement last week on how to divvy up about $1.4 trillion in discretionary spending for fiscal 2021 that is allowed under a two-year budget deal. Setting spending allocations for the 12 appropriations bills is just the first step in negotiating an omnibus package, and appropriators still have to work through several policy differences between the House and Senate spending bills.