After its holiday break, Congress returned to work for votes in Washington, DC on January 7.

Because 2020 is an election year, there are numerous Congressional district work periods (aka “recesses”). Every month but June and September include one, two or three weeks of district work periods. Congress expects to be in session in DC for four full weeks in both June and September.

The district work periods represent prime opportunities for aging service stakeholders to meet with their members of Congress in their districts.  

The work periods also include time for the parties’ national conventions. The Democratic National Convention is July 13 – 16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the Republican National Convention is August 24 – 27 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Right now, Congress plans to wrap up its work by October 2 (before the November 3 elections) and to have a lame-duck session the week of November 16 just prior to Thanksgiving.

For appropriations and fiscal year 2021 spending bills, the good news is that the 2019 agreement on spending caps was a two-year agreement.

The bad news is that the spending agreement only allows non-defense discretionary spending to increase by $2.5 billion across all federal programs from FY20 to FY21. The renewal of existing HUD rental assistance programs alone will exceed that amount.

We expect the President’s budget request to be delivered to Congress the first week of February.

The election year could mean a flurry of activity on appropriations between February and July and Congress tries to show constituents they can get things done. Or, the elections may slow work down. During the last presidential election year, 2016, Congress did not enact a federal appropriations package until May 2017 (eight months into fiscal year 2017).