Congress Faces Daunting Agenda in September
As Congress returns to session following its August district work period, members face a full docket, with a wide-range of proposals and deadlines looming in the coming month.
Most immediately pressing are likely the funds necessary to aid in the recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey, with the Trump administration requesting nearly $8 billion of initial funding to begin addressing the devastating damage in Houston and surrounding areas that occurred last week.
However, Congress also faces a number of politically contentious issues, including the prospect of raising the debt ceiling, which has traditionally been a non-starter for many fiscal conservatives.
Members also have limited time to act on a budget. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has indicated that the most likely product is another short-term continuing resolution. Barring passage of a funding measure, the prospect of a government shutdown looms, with President Donald Trump publicly indicating that he would be open to a government shutdown over his agenda items.
And Congress has a September 30th deadline to pass an Obamacare repeal/replace measure with a majority vote. If they are unable to do so by the deadline, any proposal would need 60 votes in order to pass and avoid filibuster, a prospect that is widely viewed as impossible.
Even as it recessed nearly a month ago, it was clear Congress would be busy in September. But recent developments have further complicated the month, including the continued escalation of tensions with North Korea and an announcement that the Trump Administration plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, intending to lean on Congress to sort out the legislative details of ceasing the program. Congress will also take up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an enormous and time-consuming process that determines the nation’s defense spending levels.
The body also faces a number of judicial nominations and the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP, which faces tens of billions of dollars in debt and is now expected to respond to Hurricane Harvey and, potentially, the approaching Hurricane Irma), and of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a measure that has become atypically divisive this year, with President Trump having proposed privatization of the nation’s air traffic control system.
Despite the incredible list of challenges before Congress, the House is only scheduled to be in session for 12 days of the month (17 in the Senate), further increasing the pressure of the time constraints.
Posted in From the Hill