Today in the Morning Line:
- Congress has two weeks left and some hefty legislating to do.
- Spending bill, Ebola, IS funding, military reauthorization, tax extenders top list of priorities
- Republicans do not want a shutdown
- Mary Landrieu accuses GOP opponent of preferring slavery to welfare for African Americans
Two weeks to go – Congress likely to be a low-action classic: Welcome back, Morning Line readers. With action in Congress about to heat up with just two weeks to go before winter recess, we take a look at what might get done. Free from the burden of either Nielsen ratings or impending elections, members of Congress do not need to worry about their (lack of) popularity, briefly. And thus, the finale of the 113th Congress seems to be a low-action classic: kick the budget can down the road and whistle about, but ultimately roll past, a shutdown — with a few possible surprises.
The to-do list: Some things will likely get done, though. Here’s what they are:
- Pass a spending bill to keep the government running. Current funding expires Dec. 11. Background fact: currently the U.S. government requires an average of $2.8 billion a day to keep programs running (discretionary defense and domestic programs).
- Ebola, IS funding. Potentially include funding to fight Ebola and the Islamic State militant group.
- Renew the fight against IS. The temporary authorization to support and arm Syrian rebels against IS runs out Dec. 11.
- Reauthorize the military in general. The defense authorization bill is under negotiation.
- Sort out expired tax breaks. The Republican House is moving toward a one-year extension of expiring tax cuts, so-called tax extenders. Cost: $44.7 billion spread out over 10 years. (An earlier bill that would have extended the breaks 10 years was scrapped.) You can read a summary here.
- Pass the ABLE Act — a bipartisan bill that would allow for tax-free savings for individuals with disabilities.
Who and what to watch today – Republicans are determined to avoid a shutdown:
(1) The House GOP Conference meeting at 10 a.m. EST at the U.S. Capitol. From this meeting, we should get a sense of the next two weeks. That includes whether Republicans have a plan for funding government (and possibly trying to defund a few specifics), how to respond to the president’s immigration action and whether the expired tax breaks will get a vote this week. Multiple GOP sources tell Morning Line that there’s virtually no chance of a shutdown.
(2) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s regular Tuesday news conference at 2 p.m. EST. This will tell us how stopped-up the Senate is at the moment and whether a fight over nominations will clog up the calendar and push all the other business back. On Monday, Reid warned that the Senate could be forced to stay into the third week of the month. Though Reid is known for threatening Friday and weekend sessions, it seldom happens. A Democratic leadership aide tells Morning Line that there is likely enough support to pass the one-year tax cut extenders bill through the Senate.
(3) The Armed Services Chairmen — Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif. Their comings and goings could indicate a great deal about the fate of military authorization, funding and even the state of the fight against IS.
Quote of the day: “Doc Cassidy has endorsed a documentary which claims slavery was better for black folks than welfare. Woman: Oh no he didn’t!” — Mary Landrieu radio ad ahead of Saturday’s Louisiana Senate runoff.
Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1823, President James Monroe outlined what would later become his foreign policy legacy – the Monroe Doctrine. Which future president, who was also Monroe’s secretary of state, was one of the doctrine’s authors? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Rich Polanski (@ao2666) for guessing trivia from two weeks ago: Why were Americans being held hostage in Iran in 1979? The answer was: the deposed Shah of Iran was in the U.S. for medical treatment and the revolutionaries wanted the Shah returned to stand trial.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has ruled out a presidential bid, saying he’d prefer to serve another term in the Senate. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul also announced Monday he is running for a second term in the Senate in 2016, but has yet to rule out a presidential bid.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is sticking around. Addressing the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council in Washington Monday night, he said he would not swing to the right to win a GOP primary, and indicated he’d be making his decision about running “in short order.”
The White House considered sending Mr. Obama to Ferguson last week but ultimately decided against it because perfecting the logistics would be too difficult at this time.
A new ABC/Washington Post poll shows the racial and partisan split in Americans’ opinions about Ferguson. Sixty-eight percent of Democrats and 18 percent of Republicans disapprove of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson. Eighty-five percent of African Americans and 35 percent of whites disapprove.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday night that he will soon release guidance that will aim to limit racial profiling by federal law enforcement.
President Obama is seeing a spike in Hispanic approval following his immigration executive action announcement, from 54 to 68 percent in the last two weeks, according to the latest Gallup poll.
House Republican leaders are getting behind a “Cromnibus” spending bill that would fund the government until September 2015 and fund immigration enforcement agencies. In their first big test, GOP leadership has to sell that plan to rank-and-file Republicans Tuesday morning.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will defend Mr. Obama’s action on immigration to Republicans Tuesday morning when he testifies before the House Homeland Security Committee.
A one-year extension of a group of tax breaks is looking more likely than a two-year deal after liberal Democrats and the White House undercut a two-year extension that they said offered too many breaks to corporations.
Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Bill Cassidy faced off Monday night in their final debate before Saturday’s Louisiana Senate runoff. Landrieu is not looking good after early voting results show that Democratic turnout fell 18 percent.
Is an angry online post a real threat or an exercise of free speech? The Supreme Court will determine whether a man’s violence-filled posts on Facebook about his ex-wife, which led to his arrest, are protected by the First Amendment. Jeffrey Brown spoke with Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal about the case Monday.
The logistics of same-sex marriage are complicated in one Montana county, where four clerks issuing the licenses disagree with a court ruling.
Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, don’t want the CIA to purge their email, and in a letter Monday, called on the nation’s archivist to deny the agency that authority.
A taxpayer-funded trip to Tanzania? Why not Rome? With only two weeks left before they leave the halls of Congress, some lawmakers are taking last minute advantage of the job perks.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz joins actress Ashley Judd and House members at a millennial conference on bipartisanship on the Hill Tuesday.
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 1, 2014
— Ann Romney (@AnnDRomney) December 1, 2014
— Blathnaid Healy (@blathnaidhealy) December 2, 2014
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.
Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.
Follow the politics team on Twitter: