This Week in Congress: A Shutdown for Christmas?

In case you missed it, yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Senate would vote on a continuing resolution funding the government until February 8. President Trump originally indicated he was willing to give up funding a border wall for now and would go along with a short-term fix. But today, he changed course and threatened a veto of any bill that doesn’t fund the wall.

So for now it appears we are headed for a government shutdown.

Earlier this week, the Senate passed S. 756, the “First Step Act.” This is the criminal justice bill that increases efforts to rehabilitate prisoners in federal prison to reduce the risk of recidivism. Among the programs authorized are vocational education and faith-based programs. It also allows some prisoners to serve the last part of their sentence in a halfway house and to be placed in a jail near their families. Prisoners can only participate in the program if they have undergone a risk evaluation and been judged good candidates for rehabilitation. President Trump and a bipartisan majority of Congress support the bill.

The bill passed by a vote of 87-12. You can see the roll-call vote here.

The House will also consider H.R. 88. The bill contains the pension tax relf that was part of the “tax reform 2.0” legislation the House passed last fall. It also contains tax relief for victims of natural disasters, and repeals ObamaCare’s medical device tax, “cadillac” tax, and tanning tax. It also repeals the (Lyndon) Johnson Amendment, which gives the IRS authority to revoke the tax-exempt status of churches if they engage in political activity, such as having candidates speak or distributing voter guides. The bill also allows homeschoolers to use Section 529 Education Savngs Accounts and allows those accounts to be used to pay for online learning for children with disabilities, as well as children who are being bullied in school. Campaign for Liberty supports this bill.

The House will also consider a number of suspension bills including H.R. 6227 which directs the President to implement a National Quantum Initiative Program to, among other things, establish the goals and priorities for a 10-year plan to accelerate the development of quantum information science and technology applications.

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