Senate aims to clear national security backlog in final 2023 stretch

Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D.N.Y.), on Sunday, laid out an agenda jam-packed with national security priorities for the Senate when it returns for its final three weeks in 2023.

Why it’s important: Congress is dealing with a number of foreign crises, including the wars in Ukraine or the Middle East. But dysfunction in the House has hindered its ability to pass legislation.

Schumer seemed to be threatening to keep the Senate session beyond its adjournment on Dec. 15, telling senators “be ready to stay in Washington till we finish our task.”

Schumer is driving the news. He sent a letter addressed to “dear colleagues” outlining his plans when the Senate returns Monday.


Included are:

The first tranche for the agencies whose funding expires on Jan. 19, under the stopgap budget bill Congress passed earlier in this month.

Schumer has said that an emergency aid package, including funding for Ukraine and Israel, Taiwan, and possibly border security will be voted on “as early as the 4th of December.”

The National Defense Authorization Act is a must-pass annual bill which sets the military spending and policy levels for the upcoming year.

A classified briefing for all senators on Ukraine’s attempts to repel an invasion by Russia that Schumer predicted will happen “in the next few days.”

A resolution is being introduced to try and pass hundreds of promotions for military personnel that Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., has been blocking for months because of the Pentagon’s policy of reimbursed service members for abortion related costs.

Confirmation of President Biden’s nominees to executive branch positions and federal judgesships.

He says: “The Senate has a lot of work to do before the end the year.” Schumer wrote that, as we’ve done throughout the year, bipartisan cooperation will be needed to get these bills passed through the Senate.

He warned the senators that “long days and nights and possibly weekends in December” are to be expected.

We’re keeping an eye on: Schumer’s plans are bipartisan in the Senate where Republicans tend towards hawkishness when it comes to national security. The real snag is the more isolationist, Republican-controlled House.

Mike Johnson, the newly elected speaker (R-La), is in charge. The House approved a $14.3 billion package of military aid to Israel, which included, much to the chagrin of Democrats, cuts in IRS funding.

Any supplemental spending bill that is passed by the Senate and the House will be the subject of heated negotiations.