Congress Returns To Eclipse, Long To-Do List After 2-Week Break

There certainly have been eclipse-like moments for this Congress in the past year, as fractures within the House Republican conference and partisan standoffs with the Democrat-controlled Senate very nearly plunged government operations into darkness on several occasions. But bipartisan majorities did finally approve full appropriations for the remainder of the current fiscal year just before going on break, so they begin this new work period being burdened with one less thing.

Monday, April 8th 2024, 6:52 pm



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With millions of Americans focused Monday on a rare full eclipse of the sun, members of Congress began making their way back to the nation's capital following a two-week break, mindful perhaps of the importance of not letting anything overshadow the critical work that lies ahead.

There certainly have been eclipse-like moments for this Congress in the past year, as fractures within the House Republican conference and partisan standoffs with the Democrat-controlled Senate very nearly plunged government operations into darkness on several occasions. But bipartisan majorities did finally approve full appropriations for the remainder of the current fiscal year just before going on break, so they begin this new work period being burdened with one less thing.

Still, there is important work to do, beginning with the need to approve legislation to extend the government's warrantless surveillance powers -- section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which is set to expire in less than two weeks.

"I've seen in intimate detail the vital role that 702 surveillance plays in keeping America safe," Representative French Hill (R-AR) told Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan Sunday, "I think Congress will come together and will reauthorize its use."

Another looming challenge is the passage of a package of aid for Ukraine, Israel, and other allies. Many conservative Republicans oppose sending more aid to Ukraine, but Speaker Mike Johnson has said he would bring a bill to the floor, and there many, more moderate Republicans who feel he should.

"We're in a very dangerous world right now," said Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK4) in a recent interview. "You see it in Ukraine, you see it in the Western Pacific with Chinese saber-rattling, [and] obviously our friends in Israel."

And then there's the looming Senate impeachment trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Nearly two months after being impeached on two articles in the House, the articles are expected to be delivered to the Senate this week, where leader Chuck Schumer is expected to call for a vote to dismiss them.

"I think the charges are absurd," Schumer (D-NY) told reporters Sunday. "There's no evidence, zero evidence that he's committed an impeachable offense."

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