Little Time, Uncertainty Remain for Congressional Action
Congress on break until Nov. 15
When Congress reconvenes for a lame duck session – the term for congressional business conducted between elections (Nov. 2) and the year’s end – on Nov. 15, there will be few weeks left to complete outstanding work. Considering its plans to adjourn for the week of Thanksgiving and then again by Christmas, prospects for significant action are dim. Since the current fiscal year (FY 2011) began on Oct. 1, Congress had to extend last year’s spending levels with a “continuing resolution,” or “CR,” through Dec. 3. Now, in order to preserve all federal funding, Congress must pass another CR in lieu of the FY 2011 appropriations bills. All remaining legislation must also be addressed.
In this environment, there is very little likelihood of S. 1237 or H.R. 4810 – the two major homeless veterans bills – receiving floor time, at least not in their current forms. NCHV has worked with key congressional staffs to explore other vehicles for this legislation’s passage. There may be opportunities to amend a bill scheduled to receive floor time; a homeless veterans “rider” would contain the most critical components of the two bills, thereby providing a different vehicle by which they are signed into law.
This scenario is uncertain at best. As of late October, there is little to no sense of what Congress will be able to accomplish in the lame duck session. Political majorities will be disrupted, if not displaced. Whether or not the U.S. Senate has enough time to debate and vote upon its appropriations bills – which would still need to be reconciled with the U.S. House of Representatives’ versions – is also unclear. Should one of these bills receive a floor vote, there is still no guarantee that a homeless veterans rider will receive consideration due to strict rules on allowable amendments to appropriations bills.
NCHV will continue to advocate for and facilitate the passage of S. 1237 and H.R. 4810 until final adjournment.