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January 1, Unfinished Work Congress Is Leaving Behind As It Breaks For Thanksgiving



Congress has adjourned for a two-week Thanksgiving break, leaving behind major unfinished legislation.

Bills that must be passed before the end of the year include the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. military. Additionally, 12 appropriations bills must be passed to fund the government.

Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia warned that if the FAA’s authorization expires, the agency could miss out on $50 million a day in tax revenue needed for smooth and safe air travel experiences.

Both houses of Congress have adjourned until after Thanksgiving, despite significant legislative work remaining. The Senate and House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown on Nov. 17, but have not yet considered other major legislative items, such as the Farm Bill and National Defense Authorization Act, which need to be passed before the end of the year.

Congress has not completely passed all 12 appropriations bills needed to fund the government for the 2024 fiscal year. The House has passed seven, while the Senate has only passed three, with these being different from the House’s versions and requiring a conference process to proceed.

Congressional Republicans have opposed combining all appropriations bills into a single piece of legislation, known as an “omnibus,” arguing that it leads to runaway government spending with little accountability.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is annual legislation that authorizes funding for the U.S. military and has been enacted every year for the last 62 years. The Military Officers Association of America wrote that if Congress fails to pass the necessary authorizations and appropriations, federal agencies will lack funding needed for the annual military pay raise, essential improvements to healthcare, and other quality of life programs and benefits necessary for an all-volunteer force.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) permits the government to spy on foreign nationals outside of the United States by accessing their U.S.-based email accounts, social media messages, and cloud storage systems.

The program has been hailed as critical to national security by Congressional leaders and the Biden administration, but some House Republicans argue that FISA warrants support the “weaponization” of government against political opponents. Section 702 is set to expire on Dec. 31, and a bill to reauthorize it has not yet been introduced.

A bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was passed by the House on July 20 but has been held up in the Senate due to disagreements over pilot experience requirements and proposals to raise the pilot retirement age.

The FAA regulates all civil and commercial aviation in the United States, and its authorization expired on Sept. 30 but was extended by the continuing resolution for three months. Both houses of Congress must pass an FAA reauthorization bill by Dec. 31, or else the agency will be temporarily defunded and shut down several of its programs.

The “Farm Bill” authorizes several agricultural policies to support U.S. food production, including critical subsidies for farmers, international market competition, credit for scaling businesses, and funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food to low-income households.

In the continuing resolution passed on Wednesday, Congress extended the authorization of the existing Farm Bill by one year, with its provisions now due to expire in 2024. However, several interest groups have indicated that a new bill is required to account for changes in agricultural markets and the broader economy, such as inflation.

Why It Matters

As Congress takes a break for Thanksgiving, they leave behind crucial unfinished work, putting our nation at risk. Our military’s funding hangs in the balance with the National Defense Authorization Act left untouched. This puts our brave soldiers’ pay raises, healthcare, and quality of life programs in jeopardy. Additionally, the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, vital for national security, is left to expire.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s reauthorization remains stuck, threatening the smooth operation of air travel. Finally, the Farm Bill, supporting our farmers and feeding low-income families, is left without necessary updates. Congress needs to prioritize these critical pieces of legislation and stop playing politics with our nation’s security and well-being.

As our loyal readers, we encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on this issue. Let your voice be heard and join the discussion below.




  1. Kit harris

    November 21, 2023 at 9:19 am

    Congress needs to work 40 hours a week with 5 weeks vacation only! Just like the rest of us! If we didn’t complete our work on time we would be fired!

  2. Donna

    November 21, 2023 at 9:48 am

    They should have their work done before being awarded with a 2 week break. 1 week at Thanksgiving is more than sufficient. They need to start working on the next budget as soon as one Is passed. Very happy with new congressman except for this.

  3. Phyllis Hester

    November 21, 2023 at 2:07 pm

    What have they been doing all year that these issues did not already take preference?

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