There’s the funding deadline on Dec. 16 and the annual must-pass protection invoice, which can suck up a number of oxygen. Congress delayed a number of different powerful points, from same-sex marriage to power allowing to stopping one other Jan. 6 riot, into the post-election session. And hanging over all of it is the intently contested midterms.

If Democrats lose the Senate, they’ll face monumental strain to verify as many judicial nominees as potential to lifetime appointments. If Home Democrats improbably maintain on to the bulk, there could also be much less of a crush of laws — however loads of drama round their caucus’s management contest.

A whole Republican takeover may go away the GOP desirous to clear the decks forward of 2023. Republicans are additionally beginning to sweat the debt restrict, which could possibly be practically a yr away.

And a few Democrats wish to maximize the returns from their time in energy, whatever the Election Day consequence.

“The lame duck goes to be very lame,” stated Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who desires Democrats to push an expansive agenda whereas they nonetheless management each chambers of Congress. He predicted that strain could be ”extraordinarily sturdy to get each piece of laws that we really feel is vital to our constituency and to the nation on the ground.”

Congressional spending leaders stress there’s no rapid strain to answer Hurricane Ian, one of the vital damaging storms ever to hit the area, as a result of FEMA’s catastrophe fund has sufficient money to fulfill rapid wants. Nonetheless, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) is urging Majority Chief Chuck Schumer to contemplate reconvening the chamber early, conserving Ian assist separate from the messy year-end funding bundle.

“Hurricane Ian’s catastrophic harm in Florida requires a nationwide response,” stated Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “We now have begun constructing out a catastrophe supplemental to fulfill these wants, and I stay up for working with my colleagues to ensure it passes immediately, drama or waste.”

Past the storm, Democrats put myriad different politically risky objects to the facet earlier than the election, leaving them to return within the ultimate days of the 117th Congress. That features bipartisan negotiations on legislation protecting same-sex marriage and modernizing the Nineteenth-century Electoral Rely Act, designed as a safeguard against future attempts to challenge fairly decided elections.

The Home has already handed its personal same-sex marriage and electoral certification payments, however the Senate has its personal concepts, so the 2 chambers might want to compromise. Presently, GOP leaders say they are going to take into account passing solely the Senate model of the Electoral Rely Act invoice.

“It’s a excessive precedence for us. I consider it’s a excessive precedence for the senators,” stated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who chairs the Home Democratic caucus. “Sooner or later, we’ll have the ability to get collectively and determine tips on how to proceed.”

Schumer is planning to carry up a bipartisan same-sex marriage deal after shelving the invoice earlier than the election as an alternative of risking its demise because of a Republican filibuster. Chief sponsor Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) stated, “I stay actually assured that this may go when it comes up.” She and different backers are betting GOP assist grows as soon as the midterms are over.

And because the longest 50-50 Senate ever attracts to a detailed, Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) power allowing invoice continues to be in limbo after Minority Chief Mitch McConnell threatened to filibuster any try to connect it to authorities funding. Earlier than senators left Washington final month, nonetheless, Manchin stated he shook arms with McConnell and appeared to nonetheless assume there’s nonetheless a cope with Republicans available.

Any such deal he can minimize, in fact, dangers another progressive backlash within the Home.

The must-pass invoice with the best stakes of all this winter is the large spending measure that can carry Congress by the subsequent fiscal yr. Doubtlessly alongside for the trip are a half-dozen measures that embrace hurricane reduction cash, extra army assist for Ukraine, a large water sources invoice, flood insurance coverage renewal and annual extensions of focused tax breaks.

Democratic leaders, in addition to many prime Republicans, are aiming to complete the multitrillion-dollar bundle by Christmas Day.

“I’d wish to get it accomplished so we are able to begin contemporary subsequent yr,” stated Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho).

But when Republicans do wrest again management of the Home, there’s rising chatter amongst some conservatives about derailing that invoice till after New Yr’s to maximise their leverage. Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, who serves in Home GOP management, stated he’s “open to the dialogue” and added that “I see each side” of the argument. Nonetheless, most hope to keep away from a replay of 2018, when former President Donald Trump’s border calls for sparked a prolonged shutdown.

Any year-end funding deal on the Hill is often a magnet for free ends and last-minute legislative priorities. This time round, there will definitely be one other Democratic push for long-stalled Covid and monkeypox assist cash.

Democrats additionally search to revive the expired Little one Tax Credit score enhancement, whereas Republicans wish to revive a tax profit for companies that allowed them to instantly write off their analysis bills. Extra tax breaks could possibly be in play, along with growth of retirement financial savings incentives.

As a result of it usually takes the Senate every week or extra to course of standalone payments, a number of packages of unrelated laws may get stitched to the spending deal Frankenstein-style. It’s a situation all too acquainted for a Congress that by no means appears to get its work accomplished on time.

“There’s a situation the place the most important sacrifice is sleep for a pair weeks,” stated Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.). When requested what he was most anxious about on this season’s crunch time, he stated: “Dropping the bulk.”

Negotiators may try the final word decks-clearing deal by including what’s prone to be the GOP’s greatest headache in 2023: elevating the nation’s borrowing restrict.

Prime Democrats and Republicans alleviated the last debt crisis in December after Senate Republicans folded from a hard-line place in opposition to mountaineering the debt ceiling. If Republicans take the Home, although, emboldened conservatives could strive as soon as once more to extract spending cuts in return for a debt ceiling carry.

The precise deadline to handle the debt restrict is unsure. Congress may have till late next year, however a dear year-end spending deal and President Joe Biden’s scholar mortgage forgiveness plan may additionally transfer up that date.

“I’d reasonably simply hold that out for proper now, and do some negotiations on what we are able to get from the debt restrict in a while,” stated Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.). He predicted critical talks to fund the federal government wouldn’t kick off till “a couple of week earlier than” the deadline.”

Toby Eckert, Alice Miranda Ollstein, Nicholas Wu and Connor O’Brien contributed to this report.