What to Know in Washington: Congress Returns for Lame-Duck Push

Congress returns to Washington today in an unsettled political environment that will serve as the backdrop for a robust year-end push on spending, taxes and, potentially, raising the debt limit.

Republicans appear on course to gain a narrow House majority next year, putting Democrats under enormous pressure to finish fiscal 2023 spending bills and enact priorities like enshrining same-sex marriage rights into law.

In the Senate, Democrats have secured control in the next Congress, lessening the urgency for a rush on judicial confirmations. That bodes for more action on legislation, including the debt ceiling, in the weeks ahead. “I’m going to sit down and talk to my caucus about broadening the agenda for the lame-duck session,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Sunday.

President Joe Biden wants to see the same-sex marriage bill, legislation bolstering federal electoral procedures, the annual defense policy bill and an energy permitting bill supported by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) passed in the coming weeks, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters last week.

Republican leaders in both the House and Senate are facing potential revolts from within their rank over the disappointing GOP showing in the midterm election. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) decision on how far he can go in cooperating with Democrats and still keep his support will shape bills in the coming weeks. Read more

Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images
Schumer at a campaign rally for Democrats on Nov. 5

Pelosi Says Debt-Ceiling Vote in Lame-Duck Session Would Be Best

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) signaled that Democrats will seek to extend the federal debt ceiling during the lame-duck session of Congress, avoiding a potential fight with Republicans that she said could threaten the US’s credit rating.

  • Meanwhile, Pelosi she’ll “always have influence” over Democrats in the House, while declining to say whether she’ll seek another term later as their top leader. Read more
  • On the Senate GOP side, a growing number of Republicans want a delay of next week’s party leadership elections after the party’s unexpectedly poor showing in the Senate midterms. Read more

Also on Lawmakers’ Radars


  • The House meets at 2 p.m. for legislative business with votes beginning at 6:30 p.m. The chamber is set to consider 29 bills under suspension of the rules.
  • The Senate will meet at 3 p.m. and at 5:30 p.m. will vote on whether to advance Maria del R. Antongiorgi-Jordan to be a federal district court judge for Puerto Rico.

Democrats Defy History, Keep Senate Control in Biden Victory

Democrats defied political forecasts and historical trends to keep control of the Senate in a win for Biden, as voters rejected a handful of candidates backed by Donald Trump.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto put the Democrats over the top on Saturday after the AP and networks declared her the winner in a closely fought election in Nevada, following fellow incumbent Mark Kelly’s projected win in Arizona and a victory by John Fetterman in Pennsylvania that snared a seat previously held by a retiring Republican.

Control of the House is still undecided but Republicans have an edge with 212 seats won of 218 needed for a majority. Democrats have won 204 seats. GOP control of the House would be enough to snuff out any hopes of Biden delivering on a sweeping legislative agenda over the next two years.

Still, by retaining their Senate majority, Democrats can act as a bulwark against GOP attempts to roll back Biden’s initiatives from the past two years. They’ll also be able to stop Republicans from enacting their own tax and regulation initiatives ahead of 2024. Crucially, Democratic Senate control also keeps the path clear to confirm Biden’s nominees for federal agencies and the judiciary.


  • In Oregon, Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer won the race for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, AP projected, defeating Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Read more
  • In Arizona, Democrat Adrian Fontes defeated election denier Mark Finchem, a Republican, in the Arizona secretary of state race, after a campaign that attacked Finchem for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Read more
  • In Nevada, Democrat Cisco Aguilar defeated Republican Jim Marchant—who claimed that US elections have been decided by a global “cabal” for years—in the race for secretary of state. Read more
  • In California, Rep. Karen Bass took the lead in a close race against billionaire real-estate developer Rick Caruso to become the next mayor of Los Angeles, according to partial results still trickling out. Read more

Trump Sues Jan. 6 Committee To Block Subpoena For Testimony

Trump has sued to block a subpoena for his testimony issued by the special congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. He filed the suit in federal district court in West Palm Beach on Friday seeking an order declaring the subpoena invalid and unenforceable. The panel gave Trump until today, or soon after, to testify.

A protracted legal fight threatens to run out the clock on the committee’s authority, set to expire at the end of the congressional term in early January. If Republicans take control of the House, that would likely end any chance for the committee to extend its investigation and could end the court case without a resolution. Republicans would likely withdraw the subpoenas.

  • Meanwhile, a New York author who says Trump raped her in the 1990s plans to file a fresh defamation suit against the former president over a Truth Social post in which he doubled down on remarks he made about her. Read more

Rum, Tuna Lobbies Aim for Expiring Perks in Lame-Duck Package

Lobbyists for the racehorse, rum manufacturing, and tuna canning industries are gearing up their efforts to get temporary tax benefits extended, but their fate hinges on negotiations over year-end legislation.

Biden at G-20 Summit

Biden Shakes Hands With Xi as Leaders Call for Easing Tensions

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping shook hands on Monday to kick off the first in-person meeting between the leaders of the US and China since the pandemic began, with both calling for reduced tensions between the world’s largest economies.

The two men met shortly after 5:30 p.m local time on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. “Good to see you,” Biden said to Xi before they joined US and Chinese officials. The two sides sat at long conference tables with a display of flowers between them.

“We share responsibility in my view to show China and the United States can manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming anything ever near a conflict, and to find ways to work together on urgent global issues that require our mutual cooperation,” Biden said at the start of the meeting.

Xi told Biden, “It’s good to see you,” and echoed his counterpart’s remarks through an interpreter. “Humanity is confronted with unprecedented challenges. The world expects that China and the United States will properly handle the relationship.”

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
Biden and Xi meeting in Bali on Monday.

Biden Enters Fractious G-20 Buoyed by US Election Surprise

The summit is one of the most momentous G-20 meetings in years. It will also test whether Biden’s domestic standing translates into global influence, as the president will be forced to confront questions about the G-20 itself.

  • Biden would seek to prevent US-China ties from deteriorating further in a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping today, American officials had said ahead of the long-awaited sit-down. Read more
  • Biden said he’d enter the meeting with Xi with a stronger hand after US voters returned control of the Senate to his party. Read more
  • The US and China disagree on so many things, across so many spheres, that other world leaders are increasingly warning of a deeper rupture that could split the global economy. Read more
  • Biden expressed concern to Cambodia’s leader about possible activities by China’s military at a naval base in the country, potentially exacerbating tensions around the South China Sea. Read more
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Xi’s consolidation of power in China had brought uncertainty over the direction of economic policy in that country, making it important to re-open lines of communication. Read more
  • Yellen also would seek information on China’s Covid lockdown policies and its troubled property sector during a meeting with the head of the nation’s central bank this week, senior Treasury officials said. Read more.
  • Biden came to office pledging to abandon Donald Trump’s with-us-or-against-us approach to China. Instead, he’s forcing US partners to pick sides in a deepening global standoff on semicondctors. Read more

G-20 Statement in Doubt as US, Russia Fail to Agree at ASEAN

Russia and the US failed to agree on language for a joint statement following a multilateral summit in Cambodia, making it unlikely the G-20 nations will reach a consensus in Indonesia either this week.

  • Russia’s withdrawal from the Ukrainian city of Kherson is an “extraordinary victory” for Kyiv, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Saturday. Read more
  • Yellen said it’s “very likely” European sanctions will force Russia to offer some of its crude oil exports at a price set by the US and its allies, if Moscow wishes to prevent a shut-in of some supplies. Read more
  • Saudi Arabia defended its decision to lower oil production and said its relationship with the US was strong enough to survive the fallout. Read more


  • Biden and US officials pressed the Egyptian government on Friday over the case of Alaa Abd El-Fattah, a jailed writer and activist, Sullivan said. Read more
  • Wearable devices to assess troop readiness have proliferated in the Pentagon’s toolbox, but the technology will also play a role in DOD-wide strategy to connect all of the services’ data and communications systems. Read more
  • South Africa Environment Minister Barbara Creecy called for immediate financial aid for developing countries hit by climate disasters, laying the bill at the door of the US and Europe’s richest nations. Read more
  • Yellen said Monday she stands ready to work with a range of countries that have complained about what they see as discriminatory aspects of a landmark US climate law. Read more

Around the Administration


  • Biden is in Bali, Indonesia, for meetings with President Joko Widodo, and separately Chinese President Xi Jinping. After their meetings, the president is scheduled to deliver remarks and take questions at 9:30 p.m. CIT.

Biden’s Border Chief Quits Amid Tension Over Migrant Crossings

The commissioner of Customs Border Protection resigned Saturday after saying he had been pressured to step down by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas amid a record number of migrant crossings at the US-Mexico border.

Biden Administration’s LGBT Health-Care Policy Rejected by Court

The Affordable Care Act doesn’t prohibit discrimination in health care on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, a federal district court in Texas ruled.

EEOC Official Quietly Targets Companies Over Abortion Travel

Republican EEOC Commissioner Andrea Lucas is deploying a rarely used agency procedure to silently initiate targeted discrimination probes against at least three companies providing their employees with abortion travel benefits, five attorneys who have seen the charges told Bloomberg Law.

Many Female Arthritis Drug Users Face Restrictions After Dobbs

More than half of women ages 15 to 49 who use a common arthritis drug risk losing access under restrictive state abortion laws, according to a new study based on nationwide health-care data.

White House Monitoring FTX Collapse, Calls for Crypto Regulation

The White House said Friday it was closely monitoring the collapse of digital-asset empire FTX, citing its bankruptcy filing as proof the cryptocurrency industry required strong regulation.

Yellen Acknowledges ‘Spillovers’ From US Rates, Strong Dollar

Yellen said the US and other leading economies must be cognizant of “spillovers” stemming from their responses to economic challenges.

Twitter Risks Fines, Musk Liability for Potential Data Lapses

Twitter‘s wave of executive turnover risks bringing a fine for the company and personal liability for new owner Elon Musk over potential data privacy and security lapses.

Elizabeth Holmes Should Get 15 Years’ Prison for Fraud, US Says

Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes should spend 15 years in prison for committing one of the most serious white-collar crimes in Silicon Valley history, prosecutors told the judge who will sentence her.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com; Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com; Loren Duggan at lduggan@bgov.com