House Republicans plan to spend the last month before the election voting on a long list of measures intended to give GOP incumbents the chance to argue they have a policy agenda separate from Donald Trump.
In a memo sent Wednesday to GOP members, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) outlined plans to vote on Republican priorities including: a must-pass government spending bill; legislation to scale back federal regulations; tightening oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He also noted the House will vote on funding to fight the Zika virus and pursue a legislative response to a $400 million cash payment they claim the Obama administration paid for hostages in Iran.
They also want to find a way to block any executive orders the president might issue after the election.
The list also includes plans to vote on a defense policy bill and legislation to reauthorize career and technical education.
It is a long to-do list for lawmakers who are scheduled to be in session for just four weeks in September before leaving town to campaign for reelection. Congress is expected to spend most of that time fretting over the details of a stop-gap spending bill that must approved before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 in order to avoid a government shutdown.
Lawmakers will fill the rest of the month with GOP-friendly political votes intended to help vulnerable Republicans burnish their conservative credentials ahead of the election in November. McCarthy and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wisc.) have worked with members all year to develop a House GOP agenda that would serve as a substantive foundation for members to rely on during a campaign where Republicans are have increasingly been defined by GOP presidential nominee Trump.
“We’ve passed legislation to grow our economy, protect our communities, strengthen national security, and serve our veterans,” McCarthy wrote. “And in the coming months, we can continue to look forward to making more progress on the Better Way agenda that offers a new and more confident path for America.”
Notably absent from the list is any mention of an effort by members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus to force a vote to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Conservatives want to oust Koskinen in retaliation for the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups in 2013 and missteps by the agency during a subsequent investigation into the targeting scandal.
Last month, Freedom Caucus members John Fleming (R-La.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) took steps to employ a procedural maneuver that would force a vote on articles of impeachment. McCarthy’s memo does not mention their efforts or any plans to hold a vote on the impeachment.