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Editor’s Note: Never mind the Ides of March, beware all of March

It will be one packed month for Congress, the presidency and the courts

President Joe Biden, seen here on Feb. 20 on the South Lawn of the White House, will give his State of the Union address on March 7, just one of many big-ticket items for the month ahead.
President Joe Biden, seen here on Feb. 20 on the South Lawn of the White House, will give his State of the Union address on March 7, just one of many big-ticket items for the month ahead. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As Congress finds its way back to Washington after an extended February break, March is shaping up as one of the most complicated and consequential months for politics and policy in quite some time. 

Caesar only had to worry about the Ides of March, per the soothsayer in Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.” In Washington, we just need overlapping calendars to be aware of what’s going on, and there is a lot.

The first day of the month gets things started with the expiration of a stopgap short-term continuing resolution for four fiscal 2024 appropriations bills: Agriculture, Military Construction-VA, Energy-Water and Transportation-HUD. 

But wait: There’s a late-February prequel to that drama. That would be whatever transpires in the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

While the Senate returns Monday, the House does not arrive back in town until Wednesday, the earliest it would get on with the presentation of its impeachment articles to the Senate.

That involves a bit of ceremony with House impeachment managers traversing the Capitol from House to Senate. The Senate receives them, the House impeachment managers read the articles on the Senate floor and then away we go, destination unknown. As the Congressional Research Service notes in its most recent report on the process: “Actions after these organizing steps, however, are not specified in the impeachment rules.”

Moving right along, past the impeachment proceedings of a Cabinet secretary for the first time since the 19th century and expiration of funding for a good chunk of the federal government, the next week is a real banger.

March 5 is Super Tuesday. Yes, the presidential nominating contest is a bit of a snoozer. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are on glide paths to a 2024 rematch. But Super Tuesday also features congressional primaries in Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina and Texas. Those primaries represent 115 House seats, roughly one-quarter of the chamber’s seats, as well as Senate races in the two most populous states: California and Texas.

Among the most significant House primaries is in Alabama, where two GOP incumbents, Reps. Barry Moore and Jerry Carl, face off in Alabama’s 1st District after the Supreme Court ruled the congressional map violated the Voting Rights Act. The downstream effect will likely result in a Democratic pickup in November, which is not nothing in a House that, as of next week upon the swearing in of Rep.-elect Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y., will be divided 219-213.

Perhaps offsetting Democratic gains, however, will be North Carolina’s results, where the GOP-controlled legislature redrew maps to favor their party. 

Two days later, on March 7, Biden delivers his State of the Union address in the House chamber to a joint session of Congress, a speech that incumbents seeking reelection tend to use as a campaign-style gauntlet throw-down. 

It will also come on the eve of another deadline, the March 8 expiration of a second batch of fiscal 2024 appropriations bills: Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch, and State-Foreign Operations.

The following Monday, March 11, Biden sends his fiscal 2025 budget to Capitol Hill for dissection.

The next day features another batch of presidential primaries, plus a congressional one in Mississippi, home to four House seats and a Senate election this year. 

The following week, on March 19, there are congressional primaries in Illinois, with 17 House seats, and Ohio, with 15. Ohio will also feature a competitive GOP Senate primary in a toss-up seat currently held by Democrat Sherrod Brown. 

All told in March, states will hold primaries for 151 House seats, more than a third of the chamber’s nearly evenly divided membership. And in an also almost evenly divided Senate, the Ohio race there will be among the most determinative for the majority

Congress is scheduled to be in recess the last week of March, but there are at least two blockbuster events in the courts then. 

On March 25, the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president will get under way in Manhattan, where jury selection will begin for charges on Trump making hush-money payments during his 2016 presidential run to kill stories about his extramarital affairs.

The next day are oral arguments at the Supreme Court in FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, which concerns the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, a drug used as abortion medication. This is possibly the most charged high court case on abortion rights since its 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and the federal right to abortion. 

That is a lot of consequential public policy and political stuff for one month.

At least the end of March also features Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, on March 28, where hope springs eternal for at least one afternoon. 

This report was corrected to reflect the number of congressional seats in Illinois.

Jason Dick is editor-in-chief of CQ Roll Call.

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