Legislative Update, Week of December 12, 2022
Congress Pressed as Budget Deadline Approaches
The continuing resolution that Congress passed in September which funds the federal government at FY 2022 levels on a temporary basis expires at midnight this Friday, December 16.
Two bills are currently under consideration, an omnibus spending measure to fund the federal government for FY 2023, which began on October 1, and the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Observers expect the record $855 billion NDAA to pass this week and go to President Biden. It passed the House on Thursday, December 8. However, on the omnibus spending package, there is still disagreement between Republicans and Democrats on a topline number for FY 2023 spending.
It seems increasingly likely that Congress will need to pass another temporary spending measure (continuing resolution) to avert a government shutdown. There is a about $26 billion in domestic spending that separates the two sides, a relatively small portion of an overall $1.5 trillion spending plan.
The Senate will remain in Democratic hands in the next Congress, which begins in January. The House will shift to a Republican majority.
Speakership race still to be decided.
There is a move afoot to secure votes for alternative candidates for the speakership of the United States House of Representatives in the coming Congress. Soon after the election, it seemed that current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) had the votes within his own conference to secure the speakership. However, the speaker is elected by a vote of the whole House, and there will be a slim Republican majority (222-212) when members take office on January 3. A handful of Republicans, added to Democratic votes could swing the race to an alternative candidate. He is also facing a potential challenge from the right from a member of the House Freedom Caucus, Representative Andy Biggs (R-Arizona). A mix of moderate Republicans and votes from the Democrats would pose a more potent obstacle for McCarthy. If as few as five members depart from a party line vote, it could deny him the speaker’s gavel or force multiple ballots, a circumstance that has not occurred during the past century.
Delaware General Assembly back in session on January 10
The 152nd General Assembly will convene on Tuesday, January 10, with all members taking the oath of office.
While there was some key turnover due to retirements, and one significant incumbent primary loss, the party composition in the House will remain 26 Democrats and 15 Republicans. In the Senate, the Democrats picked up a seat in Sussex County (6th SD) which changes their supermajority to 15-6.
Leadership will be as follows:
Speaker: Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) https://legis.delaware.gov/AssemblyMember/152/Schwartzkopf
Majority Leader: Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear)
Majority Whip: Melissa Minor-Brown (D-New Castle)
Minority Leader: Michael Ramone (R-Pike Creek South)
Minority Whip: Lyndon Yearick (D-Dover)
President Pro Tem: David Sokola (D-North Star)
Majority Leader: Bryan Townsend (D-Newark)
Majority Whip: Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman (D-Wilmington)
Minority Leader: Gerald Hocker (R-Ocean View)
Minority Whip: Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown)
Committee chair positions and membership are pending formal action by the speaker of the House and the president pro tem of the Senate, respectively.