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Home Stretch of the 118th Congress

Between the two voting schedules of the House and Senate, there are roughly 60 legislative days left in the 118th Congress. While that may seem like ample time to wrap up all pressing legislative business for the year, keep in mind that about half of those days take place after the August recess and roughly one-third take place during a lame duck session after elections in November, when a noticeable drop in motivation and productivity will become apparent. Before then, expect to see a sprint to advance major legislative vehicles and packages. Here’s what’s on the docket for the remainder of the year:


Farm Bill: After the House Agriculture Committee’s contentious markup of Chair Thompson’s (R-PA) Farm Bill draft, a planned date for floor time in the House remains unclear. The Senate has released a detailed section-by-section summary, but full legislative text remains to be seen. Cross-chamber disagreements over funding and eligibility determinations for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and reallocating climate-related conservation funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) continue to hold up the bill. Unless leadership can quickly hash out an agreement before September 30, an extension of Farm Bill programs will likely be necessary before full passage can occur.  


FY25 Appropriations: Following last year’s painfully prolonged appropriations process, House Republicans are showing a sense of urgency in passing FY25 appropriations in a timely manner. House Appropriations Chair Tom Cole (R-OK) recently published a proposed schedule for subcommittee and full committee markups, as well as target dates for floor consideration. The Senate has yet to announce any kind of schedule. While full passage of all 12 appropriations bills before September 30 remains a tall order, it’s reasonable to expect that FY25 appropriations will be addressed well before the sequestration deadline set in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (April 30, 2025).


National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): Last week, the House Armed Services Committee approved the $883 billion Servicemember Quality of Life Improvement and National Defense Authorization Act for FY25. Notably, the bill reserves the right of States to approve the transfer of National Guard units to the Space Force (but stops short of creating a Space National Guard) and institutes a major pay boost for junior enlisted servicemembers. The Senate Armed Services Committee expects to start marking up its version of the NDAA in mid-June. Given the consistency of regular NDAA passage and what a high priority the bill is for Members of Congress, it's highly likely that this bill passes well before the end of the current fiscal year.  

Energy Permitting Reform: There has been ongoing discussion about a bipartisan permitting reform package to streamline environmental reviews for energy projects. Negotiations have repeatedly stalled, most recently prompting Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) to say it will be “virtually impossible to get something done” on permitting reform. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Barrasso (R-WY) continue to comment that they’re making progress, but no text has been released.


Other legislation that could move by the end of 2024 include the House-passed EXPLORE Act; a health care package addressing price transparency, regulation of pharmacy benefit managers, and extensions of expiring health programs; a public lands package; and wildfire legislation addressing the recommendations of the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission’s final report. While the odds of full passage for some of these bills are slim, momentum swings do happen – often unexpectedly. Stakeholders should continue to engage Congress and voice support for their priorities in the coming months.  


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