Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) articulated the issues his party must deal with on Tuesday with just three weeks left in the lame-duck session.
“We have to deal with the following things over the next three weeks,” McConnell told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol Building.
“Nominations, year-end funding, the Saudi and Yemen issue. We’ll have a briefing tomorrow with the secretary of state and the secretary of defense.”
“And then there is an effort by some of our members to trigger a vote on a resolution related to the War Powers Act.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) has been leading a coalition of a dozen lawmakers to stop U.S. military participation in Saudi Arabia’s war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The group introduced a privileged resolution that asserts the war never received congressional approval because it is a separate fight from the one against al-Qaida.
McConnell also discussed the ongoing bipartisan talks on criminal justice reform.
The First Step Act was introduced with the aim of reforming the criminal justice system in a way that helps inmates leave jail and their criminal lives behind. The bill focuses on rehabilitating inmates by incentivizing them to partake in helpful programs.
“We also just had an extensive discussion of criminal justice in our conference,” McConnell said. “And as I indicated earlier, we’ll be whipping that to see what the consensus is, if there is a consensus in our conference about not only the substance but the timing of moving forward with that particular piece of legislation.”
McConnell also addressed questions regarding his decision not to bring a bill to the floor that would protect the special counsel investigation against the president.
Robert Mueller has been leading the ongoing investigation, which is looking at whether Trump or his associates colluded with Russian interests during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern the president could fire Mueller.
“This is a solution in search of a problem,” McConnell said. “The president is not going to fire Robert Mueller nor do I think he should not be allowed to finish. We have a lot of things to do to try to finish up this year without taking votes on things that are completely irrelevant.”
The U.S. House of Representatives is in session until lawmakers leave for the holiday recess.
When they return, congressional control will be split when the new session starts January 3. D
Democrats were able to win a majority in the House while Republicans kept their hold on the Senate.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is expected to be the next speaker.
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