What Happens To Pending Legislation With New Congress

Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.  

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Feel free to send your questions and I’ll do my best to keep up. Today’s question comes from Keith. 

I have a quick question regarding the spending bill that was passed by the House right before Christmas which included “wall” funding.  I’ve not heard anyone speak about this, but can’t that bill just go to the newly seated, Republican-controlled Senate? I guess I’m not understanding all the rhetoric about not enough votes in the House now for any new spending bills, who cares about the house. If the Senate is still controlled by the Republicans, why don’t they vote to approve the bill that was passed in the House last week?  

Bottom Line: There are two answers to this question that lead to the same outcome. The primary reason why it didn’t and won’t pass the Senate comes down to the legislative filibuster and Mitch McConnell’s decision to not change Senate rules to end the filibuster. A la what’s happened with the ending of the judicial filibuster. 

Under the current, soon to be previous Congress, Republicans had 51 seats and likely enough votes on their own side of the aisle to pass the version with border wall funding with a simple majority but not the 60 votes required in the Senate to break the legislative filibuster. Even with Republicans adding two Senate seats in the new Congress, including incoming Senator Rick Scott, they’ll still not have the numbers required to break the filibuster without some Democrats peeling off of their party line positions

But that’s about to be a moot point because once a new Congress is sworn in, all pending legislation from the previous Congress is automatically canceled. This is the second part of the answer and basically, this is where thousands of bills go to die each cycle. On average only 2% of proposed legislation becomes law. Bill on Capitol Hill in the School House Rock series became part of the top 2% when he became law most die sitting on those steps. Anyway, once the new Congressional session begins, Democrats will have just as much leverage in Congress as Republicans so anything that makes it to President Trump’s desk over the next two years will have to be a compromise of some sort.  

Photo by: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

 

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