Potential legislative priorities for Congress during the lame duck

The Obama administration and current 114th Congress still have items to resolve before the end of the year. One of the issues Congress must address is funding the government. Congress passed a short-term spending bill, H.R. 5325 - Continuing Appropriations and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017, and Zika Response and Preparedness Act, on September 28. The bill keeps the government funded through December 9, 2016. Now, with that deadline looming, lawmakers will need to address government funding before adjourning for the year.

What remains uncertain are the fates of initiatives by President Barack Obama's administration to galvanize medical progress in cancer and precision medicine specifically. A lame-duck Congress could help preserve them. Additionally, the fate of 21st Century Cures passage during the lame duck session is also unknown. Medical innovation has been a large focus of both chambers of Congress, as parallel bills have been working their way through the House and Senate. However, lawmakers have disagreed on how to pay for the provisions. Several Congressional leaders have indicated that passing this legislation is a priority for the lame duck session.

Aside from legislative work, the lame-duck will also see the House and Senate elect new leaders for the next Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected to remain the GOP leader. Democrats are expected to elect Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) as the new Minority Leader with retirement of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) at the end of this Congress. In the House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is likely to be re-elected by his caucus, despite some concerns expressed by the House Freedom Caucus. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to be re-elected unless she decides to vacate the post.


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