Party Elections, Funding in House GOP’s Sights Upon Return

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By Jonathan Nicholson

Nov. 9 — When House lawmakers return to Washington in the Nov. 14 week, their work will be focused on getting themselves and their agenda organized for the 115th Congress beginning in January.

Party leadership and rules elections are slated to take up most of House Republicans’ time in the first week back, though with the resounding victory by Donald Trump in the presidential vote Nov. 8, they are now expected to be far less contentious than had been thought.

After a week break for Thanksgiving, House lawmakers will be back in Washington for a scheduled four-week stretch starting Nov. 29 and running through Dec. 16. Notably, while the House schedule compiled by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has the House in through Dec. 16, the bill that currently provides funding for federal agencies runs only through Dec. 9.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters in Janesville, Wis., he intended to seek to lead the party for the upcoming 115th Congress. Prior to the election, Ryan had appeared under fire from both hardline conservatives and libertarians in his conference as well as Trump, who had called him weak and ineffective.

“I feel very good where we are. Donald and I have had fantastic conversations just in the last 18 hours. [Vice President-Elect] Mike Pence and I had a great conversation about the transition meeting,” he said.

RSC Wants Rules Bar

Democrats and the White House had hoped to wrap up this year’s appropriations process in one large omnibus funding bill in December, but the prospect of President Trump as a negotiating partner in 2017 makes that unlikely. Instead, Republicans will probably aim for a continuing resolution to last sometime into 2017.

Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, laid out his group’s conditions for supporting a CR in a statement Nov. 9.

“The House should take the first step and pass a very short-term continuing resolution (CR) that funds the federal government until the Trump administration has put its team in place,” Flores said. “This CR should contain only one major policy rider—a measure preventing the Obama administration from sticking the American people with any more job-killing rules and regulations before it leaves town.”

Prior to the vote, Ryan had talked about appropriations, a bill to speed up medical cures research and a criminal justice overhaul as the likely focal points of the lame-duck session.

For House Democratic leaders, the day after the election led to congratulatory statements to Trump and pledges to work together.

‘Robust Infrastructure Bill.’

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said fixing the nation’s roads and bridges could be an area of agreement with Trump.

“As President-Elect Trump indicated last night, investing in infrastructure is an important priority of his. We can work together to quickly pass a robust infrastructure jobs bill,” she said. “Our first responsibility is to protect and defend the American people; we must do so in a manner that is strong and smart, and that honors the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), the second-ranking Democrat in the chamber, said: “There were stark differences in this campaign, and they will not disappear overnight. However, it will be important for both sides—each representing 50% of the electorate—to work together constructively to serve all of the American people. I believe Democrats stand ready to meet that responsibility.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Nicholson in Washington at jnicholson@bna.com

With assistance from Madi Alexander

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at phendrie@bna.com

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