The 113th Congress returned to work just 13 days ago following its month-long summer recess. Now, the majority of America’s legislative branch has left Capitol Hill for the next month-plus to focus on this year’s mid-term election.
On September 17, the House voted on a bill that would fund the federal government through December 16. Added onto that bill was an amendment that approved President Obama’s request to train Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The legislation passed along a 273-156 bipartisan vote (three members abstained).
The following day, after a speech made to a joint session of Congress by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the morning, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly told House members they could leave Washington and that they need not return until November 12. Mid-term elections will be held November 4.
The House officially passed the resolution to adjourn until after the mid-terms just past noon on Friday. In order for Congress to adjourn, both houses must pass the resolution. The Senate officially adjourned later that day. Congress had been scheduled to remain in Washington for at least one more week before returning home to campaign.
So other than funding the government and giving the president permission the authority to train Syrian rebels, what else did Congress do in its eight day session?
Not too much.
Most of the voting that did take place during the eight days were procedural and/or ceremonial votes. For example, Tuesday brought votes to audit the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors and to pass the “Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2014”, which will boost the compensation rates of disabled veterans and their families. Thursday night the House voted unanimously to pass along condolences to the families of slain journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as to denounce Antisemitism around the world, particularly in the Middle East.
When Congress does return on the 12th of November, issues such as immigration and border security and the possible expansion of the America’s role in opposing ISIS in the Middle East face the lame-duck Congress. The body will also have just over a month to try to pass a long-term spending bill, as the funding bill voted on last week expires the week before Christmas.