Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Congress Returns for Busy September

Drew Thies



Lawmakers returned to Washington, D.C. this week to tackle numerous must-pass pieces of legislative business over the course of the month.

Key items on the docket include: government funding, raising the debt ceiling, authorizing $7.85 billion in aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey, and reauthorizing children’s health and flood insurance programs. Time is short, however: the House and Senate are only jointly in session 12 days this month.

Congress must deliver a bill to fund the government to the President’s desk on or before September 30th to avert a government shutdown. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the deadline for raising is the day prior, September 29th.

Divisions exist on what provisions should be in the bills, as well as what path to take to ensure passage. Republicans who are more conservative on budget issues have in the past demanded spending cuts as part of any debt ceiling increase. Others have indicated they’d like to see the controversial debt ceiling bill be tied to Hurricane relief in order to increase its chances of passage.

In addition to the large budget and fiscal issues facing Congress, lawmakers will also have to address the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expires at the end of the month. Funding for the Federal Aviation Administration and National Flood Insurance Program also expire this month.

The already-full schedule is muddied by recent White House proclamations on immigration policy. This August, President Trump threatened to veto any government funding bill that does not include money for a border wall. Additionally, the President put the onus on Congress to find a legislative solution to the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program, which will end in six months, according to White House statements this week.

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