Funding the government to avert a shutdown before the end of the calendar year is must-pass legislation for Congress as the clock runs down on a lame duck session and lawmakers must choose where to focus its attention. A measure to increase retirement security may not make it given the time crunch.
The SECURE Act 2.0 is under consideration for action as negotiators work out which provisions to include in a measure that has bipartisan support but has been given only a 40 percent chance of passage during the lame duck session, according to J. Mark Iwry, the head of national retirement policy during the Obama-Biden administration who’s now a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Congress, Iwry added, “has a lot of other priorities during the lame duck; … Secure 2.0 is not one of the top three or four things on the minds of most members of Congress.”
Temporary funding to keep the government open expires on December 16 and lawmakers must decide whether to pass another extension or submit an omnibus spending bill which would cover government agencies for Fiscal Year 2023. The House has passed six appropriations bills versus none for the Senate. An omnibus bill is likely the last vehicle this year to move additional legislation which could include business tax breaks and a retirement security bill if members can reach agreement before the end of the year.
In addition to a spending bill, Congress must approve the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, the annual must-pass legislation that sets the policy agenda and authorizes funding for the Department of Defense. Other possible add-ons include further aid to Ukraine and hurricane recovery assistance.
Lawmakers are also facing the possibility of running into the debt limit which is expected to occur around the third quarter in 2023. They must decide whether to address it during the lame duck session or wait until the new Congress is sworn in.
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