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A Peek at What Awaits Congress in 2018

by Countable | 1.1.18

When lawmakers return to the Capitol over the next two weeks, they’ll kickoff what looks likely to be a busy year in Congress — and it won’t be long before they’re asked to cast votes on a host of critical issues.

The first key deadline comes on January 19 when lawmakers will have to pass legislation to fund the government to avert a shutdown. Funding will either come in the form of an omnibus spending deal that funds the government through September — which would require a bipartisan compromise on lifting top-line spending caps — or yet another short-term continuing resolution so Congress can continue negotiating fiscal year 2018 appropriations.

The government’s surveillance authorities under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act also lapse on January 19, so lawmakers will be simultaneously debating the length of the program’s reauthorization along with any potential reforms.

There are several other significant issues that could come up in January. The Senate will need to act on the $81 billion disaster relief package the House passed before concluding its work in 2017, and both chambers of Congress still have to negotiate a reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Another issue that may animate the debate in halls of the Capitol during the first month of 2018 is legislation to address the long-term status of the so-called "Dreamers" who were brought to the country illegally as children. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised to hold a vote on such a bill in January if bipartisan negotiators reach a deal that includes border security measures, although Congress does have until March to reach.

President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are expected to roll out their infrastructure plan in January, which could be a key focus of the president’s State of the Union Address on January 30. While action on the legislation will likely come later in the year, the address will also provide an opportunity for the GOP to explain its vision for entitlement reform, which House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said will be on the 2018 agenda.

Between entitlement reform and the possibility of another attempt at repealing Obamacare, the process of drafting the FY2019 budget will be closely watched, as it will allow Congress to use the reconciliation process to pass such legislation with a simple majority in the Senate. On a related note, a timeline for considering legislation to provide a longer-term solution for health insurance subsidies in the individual marketplace hasn’t been announced but will be much discussed in the days and weeks to come.

Later in 2018 there will be other policy matters that emerge. At some point in the first half of the year — probably before the end of April — the federal government will exhaust the "extraordinary measures" it uses to fund the government when the country’s debt limit has been reached. That will put the onus on Congress to raise the debt limit, which will put the debt, deficits, and the broader spending debate in the spotlight — all while Congress is working its way through the appropriations process for the 2019 fiscal year.

We’ll have more on all this as it happens, so stay tuned Countable friends.

Are there certain issues you’d like to see Congress take on in 2018? Hit Take Action to tell your reps, then share your thoughts in the comments below.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: peesterv / iStock)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(65)
  • GatewayJohn
    01/01/2018
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    How about peek not peak

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  • John
    01/01/2018
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    Did you mean PEEK🙄

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  • SirRobert
    01/01/2018
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    Republicans don’t give a damn about the people of the United States or what we have to say! We spoke clearly against the tax scam and they let Trump threaten them into ramming the bill thru than ran away to hide behind the holidays! I will not forget or forgive because I watched as our democracy failed! I watched the Senate hearing until 1:00a.m. Where Pence repeatedly hammered on the desk like Khruschev commanding the Sergeant of Arms to bring order in the gallery as one by one people were dragged from the chamber echoing “kill the bill, don’t kill us!” like they were exercising freedom of speech in the Kremlin as smiling Republicans voted to pay off their campaign contributors. I listened to testimony citing that 35% of the corporate interests are held by foreign interests and that they will receive payoffs in 2019 of $5 BILLION AND BY 2027 that figure going abroad will be $40 BILLION annually, all to be paid from middle class taxes. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD IN NOVEMBER VOTE THE REPUBLICANS OUT OF OFFICE!!

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  • HockeyGuy
    01/01/2018
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    Absolutely NO COMPROMISE! Congress must fix CHIP and DACA! Let the Republicans shut down the government, if necessary! Yes, a government shutdown will hurt me and millions of other citizens, but that is temporary! Democrats must show a backbone and stand for our principles. No CHIP or no DACA, means no compromise with the Republicans!

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  • Sharon
    01/01/2018
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    Yes, Get rid of the fucking Republicans! thank You.

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  • Sadie
    01/01/2018
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    Peek. Come on guys. Proofread.

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  • Rebecca
    01/01/2018
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    Priorities for 2018: save CHIP, DACA, and net neutrality. Protect the environment and find a way for the US to get back into the Paris Climate Accord. Do what you can to keep Trump from starting a nuclear war with North Korea. Find a way to fix the tax disaster that passed at the end of 2017 (hint: it involves making tax cuts for low-income Americans permanent, closing loopholes, and raising taxes on corporations and the ultra-rich).

    Like (18)
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  • NoHedges
    01/01/2018
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    2018 Priorities for 70% of our congressional reps RETIREMENT. That's right, retire, resign, step down. I don't care what you call it just leave before the 2018 elections begin and your families are face with public humiliation during the midterm campaigns. Make no mistake these elections are going to be messy, you have failed to uphold your oath of office and the campaign ads will reflect the feelings of the 87% of Americans you have willingly failed.

    Like (16)
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  • Christine
    01/01/2018
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    All the 40 year + serving racists, misogynists, homophobic, xenophobic, islamaphobic, greedy white males must retire or resign in 2018.

    Like (14)
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  • Chester
    01/01/2018
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    Yes get rid of the Immoral and Corrupt criminal Democrats! The Democrats need to go to a third world nation where their agenda works!

    Like (13)
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  • Robert
    01/01/2018
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    Cut Entitlements way back from the Budget! Don’t pay someone more money than the workers who are dedicated to earning a HONEST Living and NOT LIVING on Uncle Sams Plantation where Obama was their leader. Now with more Jobs with Trump then make them get off their butts and work for a living for once in their lives.

    Like (11)
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  • RadicalModerate
    01/01/2018
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    Please repeal entitlement programs like congressperson and lobbyist.

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  • Linda
    01/01/2018
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    Since Congress has paid into Social Security (SS) since 1984, you’d think more would have been done to protect the program. For the past 33 years, Congress agreed to using these funds for non-SS expenses. For years, there’s been Reform rumors - privatization, increase retirement age again, cut benefits - all of which is detrimental to taxpayers who are invested in the program. In 2018, we want Congress to do the right thing to protect the increasing senior population: Be a hero. Sponsor this bill. The 2018 Senior Citizen Care Bill 1. Who this bill affects: Social Security & Medicare recipients, OPM federal & Military retirees, and any other retirement invested funds in which the government broke faith and spent the funds. 2. In so much as the federal government spent these non-general budget funds for purposes other than their implied investment, repayment to individual program trust funds is required and spending restricted to program use only. 3. As of December 31, 2016, Social Security was owed $2.8 Trillion; Office of Personnel Management Retirement, $888 Billion; Military Retirement, $670 Billion; Medicare, $294 Billion; Other retirement plans, $304 Billion. 4. Terms: Ten (10) annual payment. These funds were spent over decades, but investors cannot afford the loss of income and healthcare from their investment. (example) 5. Funding source: Department of Defense annual budget and other agencies annual budget will be reduced by +$500 Billion for a period not more than ten years until such time the #1 debtholders Balance Plus interest is paid. To expedite funding, immediate expansion of annual wage cap for taxation shall be increased to $250,000 6. This is the fair, honorable action to protect taxpayer funds in government program investments which are not part of the General Budget. The U.S. government broke faith with these programs when it used the funds for non-program use. 7. These taxpayer programs are hereby protected against bankruptcy, benefit cuts, privatization, increase in retirement age, or any other avenue to avoid repayment.

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  • Ronda
    01/01/2018
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    I’m having a fit of pique over your misspelling of peek. No worries though, I think my anger has reached its.... zenith.

    Like (9)
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  • Darby
    01/01/2018
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    Make Abortion illegal in the United States! Your allowing millions of Americans to be killed each and everyday because of Roe V. Wade! In fact what needs to be done is there needs to be a Personhood amendment that states life begins at conception and ends at natural death therefore preborn children need to be protected under the 14th amendment.

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  • Donna
    01/01/2018
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    The priorities for 2018 should be fund CHIP, fix DACA and finally pass an actual budget without kicking the can down the road two weeks or two months at a time. Based on the passage of the tax cut that will balloon the deficit with little benefit to the average citizen, this Congress will instead spend the year trying to 'reform' what they mistakenly call entitlements - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Healthcare. I expect either nothing of consequence to be done or more bending of the rules of governance to allow policies that will continue to hurt the most vulnerable before the tyrants in charge of both Houses lose their control and their so-called leadership. The already-stated plan to use the reconciliation process to diminish the voices of the majority of citizens is distasteful, unethical and not governing for the people - unless those people are the 1% or representatives who will not have to rely on any of these entitlements due to their life-long pensions and health insurance. I want them to prove me wrong. That would be a huge accomplishment and one worth celebrating on the steps of OUR White House. Everything else is just blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, in the words of the Speaker of the House.

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  • Hillary
    01/01/2018
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    Peak? Stop using presidential spell check.

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  • Kerry
    01/01/2018
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    I think you mean “peek.”

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  • anitachiquita
    01/01/2018
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    There are at least 2 sides to every opinion. Democrats need to realize time to serve the people and not the Democratic party. The same can be said about Republicans to a lesser extent. I think the year has great promise if the left can get over the fact Hillary lost.

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  • RickEberhardt
    01/01/2018
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    Why reduce social security and Medicare while not touching welfare, Medicaid, or food stamps?

    Like (4)
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