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Congress to Return From Recess Facing Tough September

by Countable | 8.31.17

Congress will return from its summer recess on Tuesday to kickoff a busy September that could bring messy fights over raising the debt limit and funding the government. Here’s a look at some of the bills in Congress that could factor into the upcoming debates.

Debt Limit

The U.S. is expected to reach the debt limit on September 29 when the Treasury Department runs out of the so-called "extraordinary measures" it uses to continue financing the federal government’s operations when it no longer has the authority to issue debt. Conservatives in both chambers of Congress are expected to push for spending cuts to be tied to any debt ceiling hike — a strategy opposed by GOP leadership and Democrats. Meanwhile, Democrats are considering attach a censure of President Donald Trump for his reaction to Charlottesville to legislation hiking the debt limit.

Conservatives have introduced proposals like the Default Prevention Act that would prioritize federal spending when the debt limit is reached to ensure that the government continues to make interest payments on the national debt and meet its obligations to the military, veterans, and beneficiaries of Social Security & Medicare. That would take an economically damaging default off the table in the event that lawmakers can’t find common ground on raising the debt limit.

Government Funding

With the federal government funded through September 30, Congress needs to approve appropriations for fiscal year 2018 to avoid a government shutdown on October 1. Rather than trying to pass all 12 appropriations bills individually or resorting to a single omnibus bill, the House GOP passed a "minibus" appropriations bill that packaged funding for defense, veterans affairs, energy & water programs, and the legislative branch before leaving for August recess.

The Senate hasn’t indicated when or if it will consider that spending bill, but the House is ready to wrap up its appropriations work next week. It’s currently expected to consider a bigger minibus bill that contains the remaining eight appropriations bills, although the official schedule hasn’t been formalized. The bill contains funding for President Trump’s border wall, which he has insisted Congress fund even if it leads to a government shutdown. Democrats are expected to oppose funding for the border wall, which could lead to a showdown in the Senate.

Continuing Resolution

When Congress needs to buy more time to solidify support for legislation to fund the government but is up against a hard deadline, it passes a continuing resolution (CR) to keep funding the government at the same levels as the previous authorization for a few days, weeks, or months.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has already said that a continuing resolution will probably be needed because of the pace with which the Senate processes appropriations bills. While a final CR (if needed) could be introduced when it becomes necessary, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) has already drafted a CR that’d continue funding through the end of Congress’ 2017 session.

Tell your reps what you think of these bills and what issues they should prioritize when they return from recess.

Related Reading

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: trekandshoot / iStock)

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  • Deidre
    08/31/2017
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    If the government shuts down, again, Congressional pay and benefits should be frozen!

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  • Andy1
    08/31/2017
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    Priority number one is impeaching trump

    Like (74)
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  • Beverly
    08/31/2017
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    Avoid special interests. Don't rubber stamp whatever your party wants you to do. Actively listen to and represent your constituents. Keep God out of this mess. He/she has enough to do. Work hard. Stop posturing. Think with your head AND your heart. Your actions affect millions of us and the future of our country and children. Thank you for your service.

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  • Kathryn
    08/31/2017
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    Solve the budget by cutting military spending and get us out of every single war, kill the health insurance industry and go to Medicare for All, create real infrastructure jobs with NO privatisation, bolster public education and free college tuition to ensure Americans remain competitive in global markets, tax churches and make certain that corporations and the rich pay their fair share!

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  • Luann
    08/31/2017
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    Are you kidding me people expect you guys to work across party lines and get things done it's not acceptable to say the democrats are obstructing or tea party group won't corporate with each other in the house you all are under the gun from Americans do your job figure it out together no more excuses.

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  • Brian
    08/31/2017
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    Number one priority should to be impeach trump

    Like (18)
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  • Bc
    08/31/2017
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    Throw Paul Ryan under the bus! Do NOT increase ceiling. Live within your means just like the rest of us Americans HAVE to do!

    Like (17)
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  • Barbara
    08/31/2017
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    Well Shawn here's the problem, A majority of us did not vote for Trump so therefore we are not about to follow his agenda.

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  • Aaron
    08/31/2017
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    Raise the debt ceiling, no political gamesmanship, no conditions, just raise it and keep raising it. Fund the government, children's health insurance program, flood disaster relief and climate change mitigation. Renewable energy, energy efficiency. Fund the cost sharing reduction payments to insurance companies participating in private markets on the ACA. Censor president Trump for equating white supremacist hate groups with counter demonstrators. Deplorable president!

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  • Shawn
    08/31/2017
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    Do your job. We voted For President Trump and we suggest you support him. His agenda is ours period.

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  • Jack
    08/31/2017
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    Drop this stupid wall, fund the Houston flooding, increase taxes on the rich not the poor, and get this imbecile and his corrupt cronies out of our government.

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  • Nancy
    08/31/2017
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    Keep resisting the illegitimate President. Get his tax returns and release them before working on tax reform that doesn't terminate or lower the power of the IRS. Do not allow the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer. Hold Senate public hearings regarding Russia, not private whereby everyone testifies under oath. Do not allow Mueller to be terminated.

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  • Dale
    08/31/2017
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    Please don't lose sight of the facts that Texas has almost no effective regulation on flood plane development, to limits on building near chemical plants, did not enforce Hazardous material inventory or even make these available to fire departments and on and on. The lack of both regulation and enforcement has killed many in and near Huston and in 2013 in West, TX. We note that the TX attorney general loosened regulation after the West explosion and he is now the GOVERNOR. There is a lot of self congratulation by how this emergency is being handled, but will federal and state officials ever acknowledge that they failed to prevent the need for 'recovery.'

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  • Deborah
    08/31/2017
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    I strongly urge you to avoid political gamesmanship with the debt ceiling. It must be raised and the government must go to use to operate and pay its bills

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  • Wallace
    08/31/2017
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    Fund the government!!! Keep it running!!! Do your jobs!! Country first and then constituents!!

    Like (7)
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  • Brian
    08/31/2017
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    Dear congress please have the moral fortitude to check this rogue executive branch. Please have the moral fortitude to fight for the citizenry. Please have the moral fortitude to shun being corporate shills.

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  • Gabriele
    08/31/2017
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    It was clear from the start: if you put someone in power that does not know how, or thinks he has not to pay his bills, he doesn't do it, wherever he is. He is use to spending big time and now everyone around him is scrambling to pay for all of it. First it was Daddy that always bailed him out and now the taxpayer have to do the dirty deed. Time someone is teaching him a lesson, like being fired (impeached) when you can't do your job. Also, if he insists to build the wall, how about he pays for it himself! There have to be consequences for his irresponsible actions and that is not only for his insane spending! GET WRIT OF HIM!!!

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  • denali
    08/31/2017
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    Congress doesn't know what tough is. They need to work together and work on issues facing this country. Stop playing games. Solve some problems.

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  • Kristen
    08/31/2017
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    All that matters is Trump's treason and deliberate destruction of everything he touches. GOP has blithely enabled ALL of it. Let's stop pretending Congress works for the people or gives a fuck: you're all WORTHLESS. Any thing you wish to pass? The answer is NO. You picked the wrong side, assholes.

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  • B
    08/31/2017
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    Start with throwing out the wall! As I recall Afghanistan had troops downsized because the people were thinking that too many lives were being destroyed for no purpose. This is becoming another Vietnam. Let's learn from history! No budget items should directly affect any representative or their constituents or anyone who has given large amounts of money to a representative's campaign!

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