Congress faces key deadlines that could determine Democrats' fate in 2022 midterms

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The House and Senate face an onslaught of deadlines key to fulfilling members' campaign promises and keeping the government afloat as they return from recess this week.

Why it matters: The next few weeks will be pivotal to enacting President Biden's agenda — and determining how the Democratic Party fares in the midterm elections.

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The latest: The main focus for the remainder of this month will be to wrap up negotiations on Biden's social spending package, which is being trimmed from $3.5 trillion to closer to $2 trillion.

  • Leaders on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are losing patience and are eager to strike a detailed framework — at a minimum — allowing House Democrats to finally pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

  • As of now, moderate and progressive factions within the House Democratic caucus are still far apart on key provisions, including prescription drug reform, climate change and Medicare expansion.

  • They also haven't agreed on a top-line number.

Between the lines: This will be crucial for reaching a compromise, if members want to meet their Oct. 31 deadline. Without an agreement, a reconciliation vote will likely slip to late November or December.

  • Congress also will have its hands full with meetings and subpoenas by the House select committee on Jan. 6.

  • The Senate faces a backlog for confirming key ambassadors.

  • Both chambers must address national defense funding and a looming government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis.

What we're watching:

Oct. 19: The Jan. 6 select committee will vote on whether to hold former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt for defying its subpoena.

Oct. 20: Biden's nominees for ambassador to China (Nick Burns), Japan (Rahm Emanuel) and Singapore (Jonathan Kaplan) will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during their confirmation hearings.

Oct. 20: The Senate will vote on the Freedom to Vote Act, a voting rights bill backed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Oct. 21: Attorney General Merrick Garland will testify before the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing about oversight of the Justice Department.

Oct. 31: A 30-day extension of funding for surface transportation programs expires. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also has set this date as the new deadline to vote on the Senate-passed, $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

  • Progressives insist they can always issue another short-term extension if they need more time to negotiate the scope and cost of the social spending package — something they say needs to be finished before voting on the infrastructure bill.

Nov. 8-15: The House and Senate are on recess for one week.

Nov. 19-29: The House and Senate recess for Thanksgiving.

Dec. 3: The short-term government funding bill expires. Congress must pass another funding bill to avoid a government shutdown.

Dec. 13 through the end of the year: The House and Senate are on recess for winter holidays.

Mid-December: The government will default on its debt unless Congress raises the debt limit.

Before the end of the year: Congress must pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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