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Legislative Outlook for the Remainder of 2023

Back from Thanksgiving, Congress has 13 voting days to wrap up any outstanding legislative business in 2023. In a Dear Colleague letter sent on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that “Senators should expect long days and nights, and potentially weekends in December.” Passage of the “laddered” continuing resolution all but ensures that there won’t be much activity on appropriations (at least publicly) until early January. So if not appropriations, what can we expect to pass before Congress goes home for the winter recess? Here are a few big-ticket items to watch in the coming weeks:

Supplemental funding for Israel and Ukraine: In October, President Biden called on Congress to provide $106 billion in supplemental funding for foreign defense and humanitarian aid, including $61.4 billion for Ukraine and $14.3 billion for Israel. While House Republicans (and a handful in the Senate) have balked at additional aid for Ukraine, plans to tie the aid to other priorities increases the chances of an agreement. The Senate could vote on this funding as soon as next week, and they may have to in order to deliver aid before the end of the year. If not, supplemental funding will almost surely get tied up in the appropriations conversations next year.

Border Security Resources and Asylum Reform: In exchange for signoff on additional funding for Ukraine, conservatives are asking for more resources for border security and substantive immigration reform. In terms of funding, the President’s supplemental request included over $13 billion in funding to hire additional border patrol agents, asylum officers, and judge teams, as well as money to counter fentanyl smuggling. On the policy side, changes to U.S. asylum policy have been the main point of contention in the bipartisan negotiations taking place in the Senate.

NDAA and Military Promotions: The House and Senate are set to begin reconciling their respective versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in formal conference this week. Expect significant investments in cybersecurity (including funding for a dedicated cyberspace and digital tech fund at the State Department) and for the majority of culture war provisions to be stripped. The Senate is also positioned to clear a resolution confirming over 350 military promotions and appointments that have been held up by Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) over Pentagon abortion policies.

FAA Reauthorization: Lawmakers also have until Dec. 31 to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, they first have to address multiple policy sticking points, including issues with pilot training. Given the amount of time left to resolve these issues and pass legislation out of both chambers, an FAA reauthorization extension riding on another large bill seems more likely.

This is also the time of year when the priorities and pet projects of individual members tend to find their way into the large legislative vehicles leaving the station. This year’s NDAA has already been characterized as a “Christmas tree” bill. It’s likely that we’ll see a slew of last-minute provisions inserted into NDAA reauthorization and possibly a large reauthorization like FAA or Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).


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