Lame DuckCongress returned to Washington last month to fill each respective chamber for the first time since late September and the midterm elections. Despite all the excitement revolving around the 2022 election, Congress has a daunting to-do list of unfinished business that must be taken care of before any ducks (lame or any other species waterfowl) can think about heading south for the winter.  

On the “must-pass” docket: Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Appropriations and FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In order to avoid a government shutdown, Congress must enact Appropriations legislation to keep the government funded past the current deadline of Dec. 16, 2022, by passing either a year-long omnibus spending bill or passing another Continuing Resolution to maintain the current FY 2022 government funding levels. Given the now confirmed change of power in the House and divided government in the next Congress between a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and a Democratic majority in the Senate, and the retirements of the current Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a government shutdown is less likely at this time.  

Congress must also come to an agreement on the FY 2023 NDAA, which has been passed every year since 1961. The NDAA serves as the annual legislative vehicle to authorize Department of Defense (DoD) activities, funding, and national defense policy agenda, however, given its “must-pass” nature, the NDAA is ripe for additional non-defense related policy items. This year’s NDAA could include potential notable policy items, such as clarifying lawmakers’ role in certifying presidential elections, enabling cannabis businesses with access to financial services (SAFE Banking Act), and revamping efforts on permitting reform for energy projects.  

In addition to the two must-pass items, Congress is poised to quack about several additional policy initiatives during the lame duck session. Notably, members of both parties will seek to cajole their colleagues in taking up a year-end tax extender package with R&D tax credit reform, retirement savings reforms and an extension of the temporary increase in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Members will also consider additional funding for Ukraine Aid and potential extension of the Debt Limit. A lame duck Debt Limit agreement has the potential to defuse a looming contentious debate, as the U.S. Treasury Department has indicated that the current limit on the borrowing ceiling will kick in by Q3 of 2023. 

One final piece to highlight during the Lame Duck session, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act remains at a stall in the Senate. Rep. Newhouse (R-Wash) is beating the drum once again, but it is a grim outlook for the bill to be picked up in the Senate before the start of the 118th Congress. The legislation passed the House in March 2021 and has been waiting to be picked up in the Senate since. All the major agriculture groups in DC are in support of the bill and are expected to continue support when it is reintroduced next Congress.  

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