As Congress returns from August recess, three issues have vaulted to the top of the priorities list.
With a turbulent summer and August recess officially behind them, Congress and the White House are focusing on three key issues this week: an aid package for Hurricane Harvey relief, avoiding a government shutdown, and raising the debt ceiling.
On the Harvey front, the Trump administration is looking to pass an initial $7.85 billion package to fund FEMA’s efforts in Texas. But it’s not so simple. The White House is seeking to tie Harvey aide to the debt ceiling increase, a move some conservatives oppose:
Many lawmakers expect at least some of the Harvey aid to be added to a measure raising the debt limit, which is a difficult vote for many Republican lawmakers. While hurricane aid is broadly supported, some influential conservatives have raised concerns about pairing it with the debt limit.
“Our obligation is to assist those impacted by this great flood, but it’s past time the swamp waters in DC begin receding as well,” Rep. Mark Walker (R., N.C.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 150 House Republicans, said in a statement Monday.
Debt Ceiling Increase
Politico Playbook explains how this might all play out in Congress:
Despite the Trump administration’s preference, the package that begins in the House will not include lifting the debt limit, according to people briefed on the legislation. That’s not to say the Senate won’t slap it on and send it back to the House, which many aides expect to happen. You will hear a lot in the coming days about some opposition on the right to a Harvey disaster relief and debt ceiling package. Remember this: support for a deal like that would be broad and bipartisan.
Avoiding a Shut Down
The federal government runs out of money on September 30. If a stopgap budget is not passed before then, the federal government will close. NPR explains that the biggest troublemaker on this issue is the calendar:
But first, Washington has to avoid another round of self-inflicted, familiar crises, address impending deadlines and resolve unanticipated legislative demands before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The Jewish holidays also truncate this month’s legislative schedule, giving lawmakers just 12 days [to iron out a deal].
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