Look Ahead to the Week of January 18: The Senate Takes Up Voting Rights

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Both the House and Senate will be in session this week.

The Senate had planned to be in recess, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) changed the schedule, bringing the Senators back to D.C. for session this week while making next week a recess week. 

Last week, the House passed a voting rights measure that combines the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Amendment Act. This week, Senate Democrats will attempt to take up the legislation, but Republicans have indicated that they will use the upper chamber’s 60-vote filibuster threshold to prevent action on the measure. While President Biden and Senate Democratic leadership have expressed a desire to modify the filibuster rule if action is blocked, they lack the support of all 50 Democratic Senators that would be required to do so.

Democrats are also continuing to evaluate options in the hopes of advancing their Build Back Better Act, the $1.75 trillion tax and spending package, as it continues to evade any consensus in the upper chamber and appears stalled for the time being. The Administration has announced this week it is looking at developing the spending bill without its child tax credit and paid family leave proposals but maintaining their climate measures. 

In the background, Appropriations Committee leaders are still eyeing the February 18 expiration of the CR and trying to determine how to continue government appropriations beyond that deadline. Pressure from members with congressionally directed spending requests, which cannot be funded by a simple continuing resolution, will certainly play a role. 

House Side

On Tuesday, the House will meet for legislative business to consider one bill under suspension.

  • S. 2959 – Supplemental Impact Aid Flexibility Act (Sen. Thune – Education and Labor)

On Wednesday, the House will meet for legislative business to consider multiple bills under suspension.

  • Senate Amendment to H.R. 1192 – Puerto Rico Recovery Accuracy in Disclosures Act of 2021 (Rep. Velazquez – Judiciary)
  • S. 1404 – Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act (Sen. Markey – Financial Services)
  • S. 452 – Willie O’Ree Congressional Gold Medal Act (Sen. Stabenow – Financial Services)

On Thursday and Friday, the House will meet for legislative business.

  • Bills expected under a rule
    • H.R. 4673 – EVEST Act (Rep. Takano – Veterans’ Affairs). The bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to automatically enroll veterans who are eligible for VA health care into the VA health care system.

Senate Side

On Tuesday, the Senate will begin consideration of H.R. 5746, the House amendment to the Senate-passed bill, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. The legislation would modify voting options, election procedures, and campaign finance rules and would also require federal approval before voting changes can be implemented in states and localities with a recent history of discrimination.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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