Congress only has 40 working days left before the end of the year and they have a lot to get done.
The first thing Congress will have to accomplish is a decision on what to do with the budget. Without a deal, government will shut down on October 1. Lawmakers will have just under two weeks to hammer out an agreement. they may decide to take the easy way out and kick the can down the road again with another “continuing resolution.” What that does is extend everything a little longer at the current levels of spending.
Democrats are determined that if we do go the continuing resolution route, then it will be on a short leash. “No more than 60 days,” according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
The House worked out their side of the figures for 10 of 12 spending bills, but the Senate isn’t likely to agree with them as they stand. Over in the Senate, everyone is waiting for the leaders to get the nod from President Trump on a two-year deal. Republicans are hopeful they can combine their Pentagon budget with those of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services.
The recent mass shootings will be the focus of a whole slew of legislative ideas. Everything from gun control to new and improved mental health facilities are already on the table. The key players with the most bipartisan cooperation seem to center around enhanced background checks and red flag laws.
Impeachment does not seem to be a serious issue for the fall session, but you can expect to hear Democrats fuming about it through the rest of the year.
Trade deals are looking like they have the best chances of passing without too much turmoil. President Trump’s negotiations with Canada have paid off so it’s time to add them into the existing deal we have with Mexico. Democrats hate to give President Donald Trump credit for anything, so they are calling his deal NAFTA 2.0. At least they recognize it’s an upgrade over Barack Obama’s one sided debacle.
Pundits expect a big battle over government surveillance powers as a few Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act programs are set to expire soon. One is so scary that even the NSA wants it to go away, but the administration wants to keep it. It allows the collection of metadata on domestic text messages and phone calls. That means here in the United States. The spooks want to keep it as a way to identify ‘lone wolf’ domestic terrorists and hard core conservative white nationalists.
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