Lame Duck or Lively Duck?

The outcome of the midterm election in two weeks will heavily influence not just next year’s lawmaking, but the long list of to-do’s awaiting members when they return for the final few weeks remaining in this Congress. 

Among the more prominent matters waiting to receive attention in the lame duck are:

  • Bills on federal spending
  • The defense budget
  • Ukraine assistance
  • Relief for Hurricane Ian and other disasters
  • Same-sex marriage, and 
  • Electoral reform to prevent another attack on a presidential election. 

Recently, calls have arisen to limit federal borrowing ahead of predictions that the federal government will no longer be able to meet all its obligations at some point next year. Plus, the Senate is also tasked with considering President Biden’s nominees for the executive and judicial branches and regulatory agencies. 

One impact the elections are likely to have on the remainder of this Congress is how Senate floor time will be allocated between moving legislation versus voting on nominees. And that decision could have a big impact on how senators spend their time in the lame duck. 

If the Democrats hold onto at least 50 Senate seats, they will be able to continue to confirm the president’s nominees in the next Congress without Republican support so could dedicate more floor time on legislative priorities this year. 

If Republicans take control of the Senate, Democrats will lose control of the confirmation process starting January and so they will want to prioritize confirming the president’s nominees, especially those he seeks to appoint to lifetime jobs in the judiciary.