Pressure is on Congress as Lawmakers Return to DC
Harvey has put heavy pressure on the lackluster US Congress as lawmakers get ready to return to Washington on Tuesday after a 5-week Summer recess.
A big workload awaits them, including funding the government by month’s end and increasing the federal borrowing limit, and ever ending of Barack Obamacare.
However, the 1st focus will be on rushing an aid package to storm-ravaged Texas and Louisiana, and that bi-partisan imperative has put aside talk of a government shutdown.
The US House of Representatives and Senate are expected to vote quickly on the first $7.9-B aid installment to help with immediate recovery and rebuilding needs in Houston and beyond.
Additional billions will be tucked into a catchall spending bill later in the month that will keep the US government open past 30 September, when the current fiscal year ends.
After spending 1-H of this year failing to repeal and replace Barack Obamacare (ACA), and missing deadlines on other fronts due to hemming and hawing, fast action on Harvey will give Congress and President Trump the chance to look real, and remind voters that government can be a positive force.
GOP lawmakers head into the Q-4 of the year keen to mark accomplishments and make headway on major tax reform, and the majority is eager for the chance to turn around their lame record ahead of Y 2018 mid-term elections.
For Republican leaders, disaster spending has the benefit of acting as a potential sweetener as they try to get colleagues to take the perennially unpopular step of raising the United States’ $19.9-T debt ceiling.
That has to happen by 29 September latest, to permit the government to continue borrowing money to pay its bills. A default on obligations may upset US and world financial markets.
GOP leaders have been making plans to pair the debt limit increase with the 1st tranche of Harvey aid.
Adding to the workload, a few important programs are expiring at the end of September and need to be renewed. They include children’s health insurance payments and a national federal flood insurance program that has bi-partisan support, but continually pays out more than it takes in through premiums.
The White House says President Trump on Tuesday will decide the fate of the younger immigrants brought to the United States as kids and protected from deportation by former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
If he ends or phases out the program, there will be pressure for Congress to step in with a fix to save nearly 800,000 from the threat of deportation.
Some Republican lawmakers have begun to talk about the possibility of a deal to protect this group in exchange for President Trump’s border Wall with Mexico. Democrats are still calling the Wall a nonstarter.
But for many Republicans, particularly House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Minn) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky), clearing the decks of the must-do items on spending and debt is just a prelude to their work on overhauling the tax system after the failure on healthcare legislation.
Despite President Trump’s attacks on Senator McConnell over the Summer, aides to the 2 men believe they share the same goals on taxes.
Many believe that if they succeed on reworking taxes and lowering rates voters will forgive and forget the failure on healthcare.
But, a failure on taxes could cost the GOP its House majority because voters will question whether Republicans can accomplish anything after gaining control of Congress and the White House.
The failure of healthcare focuses the importance of a win on tax reform.
Have a terrific weekend.