Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Congress prepares for recess, busy autumn

Drew Thies

The Senate is wrapping up business this week in a special extension of the legislative session a week into August, a month typically used for recess. The House of Representatives wrapped up its legislative business last Wednesday and adjourned two days ahead of schedule.

The upcoming recess puts a bookend on a last-minute rush in both chambers to act on must-pass legislation such as highway funding and other high-profile issues like the Iran nuclear deal and Planned Parenthood funding.

The busy weeks of legislating, however, set up a particularly thorny mix of legislative hurdles for when lawmakers return to the Capitol in September. The three-month extension of highway funding in July placed yet another piece of unavoidable, expensive legislation in the last quarter of 2015.

The GOP had internal battles over the appropriations process as well as the length and scope of a bill to fund the highway system, pushing both projects into the fall.

After the August recess, Congress will have 3 weeks with only 12 legislative work days to come up with a solution to funding the government before October 1, when currently appropriated fund expire. Congress will then have one more month to create a plan to once again fund the highway system.

Combined with continued efforts to alter the Affordable Care Act, defund Planned Parenthood, vote on the Iran deal, and action on a host of other hot button issues, Congress will have an extremely busy end to 2015, even relative to other end-of-year legislative sessions. “Deadline here, deadline there. But always deadlines. Management by crisis,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

AHCA will continue to monitor these contentious funding issues to ensure Medicare and Medicaid dollars are preserved in any spending decisions. On a scheduling note, as legislative business will die down, we will only provide updates from the Hill through August as they are relevant, not necessarily weekly.    

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