Important Legislation Congress Failed to Pass

Important Legislation Congress Failed to Pass

As has become usual in recent years, Congress failed to pass the legislation needed to fund the federal government for the new fiscal year 2024. They didn’t pass much else, either. Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy rebuked GOP leaders, saying during a floor speech in mid-November that for years, he’s heard nothing but “excuses” and “empty promises.”

“I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing, one thing, that I can go campaign on and say we did,” Roy said. “Anybody sitting in the complex, if you want to come down to the floor and come explain to me one material, meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done besides saying, ‘Oh, it is not as bad as the Democrats.’”

There were a whopping nineteen votes just to name a House speaker, and just twenty-seven actual laws were signed, many of them routine, like renaming buildings. The biggest legislative victories were bills that did nothing more than avert self-created problems, like potential government shutdowns.

They did pass legislation to fund the government at 2023 levels for two separate dates: January 19, 2024 for the departments of Agriculture-Rural Development, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, Energy & Water, and Transportation-HUD; and February 2 for the departments of Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Financial Services & General Government, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch, and State & Foreign Operations.

That means they’ll have just over two weeks to agree on funding for the departments covered under the January 19 date and about four weeks for the rest. Yet they will not be back in session until January 9 next week, giving them only ten days to meet the first deadline or face a partial government shutdown.

As noted above, the deadline to fund the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is February 4. That’s the department that oversees CMS – the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, so Congress will need to agree on new funding by that date.

In addition to funding the government departments, they will also be working to reach an agreement on emergency funding for aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and U.S. border security.