What’s on the plate for Congress now Thanksgiving is over? Republicans are narrowing in on their impeachment inquiry with Hunter and James Biden testimony

Congress will have a plate fuller than Thanksgiving dinner when they return to Washington, as deadlines for funding and other policies quickly approach and Biden’s impeachment inquiry reaches a pivotal juncture.

Lawmakers flew home to spend the holiday week in their districts after narrowly avoiding a shutdown with an emergency bill that gave them until the new year to hammer out a long-term government financing plan — capping off a marathon ten-week session in the House of Representatives.

But after a weeklong hiatus, here’s what to watch for on Capitol Hill:

Biden Impeachment

Top Republicans leading the impeachment inquiry say they need to conduct 12 to 15 more interviews and are planning a statement from Hunter and James Biden in December.

Lawmakers skipped town to spend Thanksgiving week at home after narrowly avoiding a government shutdown

They must then decide whether to vote on articles of impeachment — forcing moderates to cast a politically charged vote on whether to impeach the president.

Republicans would likely accuse the president of inappropriately using his office to further his family’s business activities. They are also investigating whether there was political bias in the tax and gun crimes case against Hunter Biden.

Ending an impeachment inquiry without a vote, or with a failed vote, would be an embarrassing defeat for Republicans, and would actually look like it would absolve the president of any wrongdoing.

Top Republicans leading the impeachment inquiry say they have 12 to 15 more interviews to conduct and are planning a statement from Hunter and James Biden in December.

Deadline drama

Congress will now face two new funding deadlines as they try to figure out the details of a longer-term spending plan.

Speaker Mike Johnson passed a bipartisan continuing resolution, CR, to push the government funding deadline into the new year — despite cries from hardline conservatives — eight of whom impeached Kevin McCarthy for passing a CR.

Funding for four non-controversial agencies and projects, including military construction and veterans affairs, is extended through Jan. 19 and funding for eight others runs through Feb. 2.

Ahead of Thanksgiving week, the House of Representatives drew votes on three appropriations bills it hoped to pass. After months of back and forth, the House of Representatives has passed seven of 12 single-issue bills along party lines and has yet to discuss those bills with the Democratic-led Senate.

If a majority in both chambers cannot agree on the top numbers, they must pass either a new resolution, CR, to fund the government at 2023 levels, or an omnibus that combines all of the government’s funding priorities into one bill.

Speaker Mike Johnson passed a bipartisan continuing resolution, CR, to push the government funding deadline into the new year

FISA extension

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) expires on December 31, 2023, and Congress has debated whether and how to renew the controversial provision that allows unauthorized wiretapping of foreign citizens.

The Biden administration has heavily lobbied Congress to reauthorize the program, warning it is “essential” to disrupt terrorists.

Some Republicans warn that the program will need to be aggressively scaled back if it is extended after sweeping Americans into its fold, while others warn that not reauthorizing it could lead to serious national security risks.

A series of recent reports have revealed that the FBI has failed to follow its own standards and that hundreds of thousands of abuses of the program have occurred.

Unauthorized searches of US data reached a sky-high 3.4 million in 2021 before changes were implemented, dropping to just over 204,000 in 2022.

FAA reauthorization

Congress must reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) — the bill that governs the nation’s air traffic control system and is set to expire at the end of this year.

An outside review commissioned by the FAA after a number of near misses this year found the agency was understaffed, outdated and underfunded, leading to an “erosion of the margin of safety.”

The House of Representatives has passed its own FAA reauthorization bill, but the Senate has not yet passed theirs, taken up pilot training regulations, or subsequently referred the bill to the House.

The Senate bill has been on hold since the summer due to disagreements between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Party Whip John Thune, who proposed an amendment that would allow pilots to participate in flight simulator training. count toward their 1,500 hours of training to become a certified pilot.

Foreign aid for allies

As President Joe Biden makes a desperate plea for Congress to approve aid to Ukraine and Israel, the prospects of that ever happening appear increasingly remote.

The White House has requested $61 billion in aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region.

House Republicans have already passed a $14 billion aid package for Israel — but the bill repurposed money from the IRS — which Democrats opposed. Speaker Mike Johnson has insisted that any relief package must be offset.

Fallout in Ukraine’s Donetsk region due to a Russian missile attack this week

Meanwhile, some liberal lawmakers have insisted that Biden should make the aid conditional on Israel committing to prevent civilian casualties.

In the Senate, lawmakers have been working on a package that includes aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — and in return provides border security benefits for Republicans.

But striking a balance on border security that would satisfy Republicans in the House of Representatives and liberals in the Senate is a tall order.

Johnson has not ruled out aid to Ukraine as long as it is linked to adequate border facilities, even as hardliners warn him to abandon any attempts to push through aid to the war-torn country.