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Unfinished Appropriations Work Piled High as Yuletide Awaits
Avoiding partial government shutdown high on the list

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., says he’s ready to take up a stopgap measure tiding lawmakers over until after Christmas, if that’s what it takes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Welcome to “hell week” on Capitol Hill.

From wrapping up seven of 12 outstanding appropriations bills to enacting a landmark overhaul of criminal sentencing laws, the last week before Christmas is shaping up to be a frantic one — made more difficult by likely absences of lame-duck lawmakers not coming back next year.

GOP Could Ditch Mark Harris in Potential North Carolina Primary Re-Do
Republican state lawmakers have passed bill to hold new primary if elections board tosses initial results due to illegal tampering

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have raised the possibility of allowing their party to ditch 9th district candidate Mark Harris in a new primary election if the Nov. 7 results for his race are tossed out. (John D. Simmons /The Charlotte Observer via AP)

Republican state lawmakers in North Carolina have passed legislation that would allow the party to ditch Mark Harris in a new primary election for the 9th District seat if the state board of elections there decides to toss out the results of the Nov. 7 midterms.

Now the bill sits on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

Hell Week Amid Shutdown Fears
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 92

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's staff sets up a "#TRUMPSHUTDOWN" poster before her press conference earlier this year.  The poster was taken down before the press conference started. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers ‘Not Interested’ in Interior Post
Members in line to replace Ryan Zinke include Labrador, Denham, Heller

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol on Nov. 28. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite being a speculative frontrunner to lead the Department of the Interior when President Donald Trump first appointed his cabinet, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is not interested in the post.

Since Trump announced that Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will depart his administration amid corruption charges on Saturday, speculation about who will replace the former congressman has centered on a handful of Republican members or former members of Congress from western states.

Driverless Industry Surges Forward While Hill Hiccups on Regulation
Two years after Sen. Thune’s test drive, still no laws from Congress

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., prepares to ride in the 2014 Chrysler 300c, during an exhibition of self-driving cars for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on March 15, 2016. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. John Thune was test-driving a car of the future when he ran into a very 20th-century problem: traffic.

In 2016, Washington’s local laws forced Thune’s autonomous-capable Chrysler sedan to motor into neighboring Virginia before it could show off the no-hands navigation. That’s where the South Dakota Republican got stuck in a tide of commuters.

In Oversight Role, House Democrats Aim for Both Check and Balance
Investigating the president carries risks for incoming House majority

Incoming House Oversight ranking member Elijah E. Cummings envisions a two-pronged approach to investigating President Donald Trump — focusing on his personal business dealings, including whether they implicate the president’s campaign in colluding with Russia, and probing the “harm” he says Trump has inflicted on the foundations of American democracy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings has seen the headlines. The 12-term Maryland Democrat, who in January will take control of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, knows he has the power to become President Donald Trump’s worst nightmare. For now, he’s taking a more measured approach.

“A nightmare has to be in the eyes of the beholder,” Cummings said in a recent interview. “If a nightmare comes with me doing my job that I’m sworn to do, so be it.”

Chuck Schumer Seeks Senate Vote on Defending Obamacare
New push by Senate Democrats to respond to Texas judge’s ruling that law is unconstitutional

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Sunday that Democrats will make another push to get the Senate to defend the health care law in court. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Calling the ruling of a Texas federal judge, “awful, awful,” New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer wants a congressional intervention on behalf of Obamacare.

The Friday night ruling from Judge Reed O’Connor struck down the individual mandate of the 2010 health care overhaul as unconstitutional, and he went a step further in saying that it couldn’t be severed from the rest of the law, meaning it would fall as well. But as a practical matter, the law appears to be remaining in place pending appeals.

Ruling on Health Care Law Leaves Consumers Confused
Law remains in place for now

A pro-health care law demonstrator marches outside of the Supreme Court on the first day of opening arguments that will determine the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care law in 2012. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The most immediate impact of a ruling striking down the 2010 health care law could be confusion and depressed sign-ups in the law’s insurance marketplaces on the final day of open enrollment.

The law remains in place for now — but some consumers may not understand that.

Amid Corruption Charges, Zinke Is Leaving as Interior Secretary
Trump had expressed concern about allegations against former House member

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be leaving his post at the end of the year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 12:35 p.m. | Embattled Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be the latest senior official to leave the Trump administration after months of being dogged by corruption charges.

President Donald Trump made the announcement on Twitter, saying the former Montana congressman would be leaving his post at the end of the year.

Texas Judge Strikes Down 2010 Health Care Law
Law is unconstitutional without “individual mandate” penalty, judge rules

Supporters of the 2010 health care law rally outside the Supreme Court in June 2015 as they await a court decision related to the law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A federal judge late Friday struck down the 2010 health care law, siding with a group of conservative states that argued the law is unconstitutional after Republicans in Congress eliminated a key part of it.

Judge Reed O’Connor, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, sided with Texas and the other states, saying the law cannot stand without the so-called individual mandate to get coverage, which Republicans effectively ended as part of a 2017 tax overhaul . Texas and its partner states argued that the requirement was not severable from the rest of the law and sought an injunction beginning in 2019.