Here’s what to expect from Congress in September
Right now, Congress is in the middle of their annual August recess, and many Representatives and Senators are holding town halls and other events to listen to their constituents. But what can we expect when they get back to Washington?
Congress will have at least two must-pass pieces of legislation. The first is a spending bill, as the fiscal year closes on September 30. If no spending bill is passed, the federal government must shut down.
The second important piece of legislation come September regards the debt ceiling. The Treasury Department announced a couple of weeks ago that the debt ceiling will reach its limit on September 29. If an increase in the debt ceiling isn’t passed, the federal government cannot borrow any additional money and would likely not be able to pay for expenses that Congress has approved.
Sources on Capitol Hill have said it is likely that Congress will wait until the last minute to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government open until December. There of course, will not be any spending cuts to reduce the deficit.
They have also said House and Senate leaders will work with Democrats to pass a “clean” debt ceiling increase so they can ignore conservatives who have called for a debt ceiling increase only if there were concrete spending cuts.
One source on Capitol Hill said, “September is going to be a bad month for conservatives.” From the sound of things, he is right.
These two pieces of legislation will likely only occupy Congress’ time during the last week of the month.
The rest of the month looks to be eventful, as well.
At the end of July, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said tax reform would begin immediately upon Congress’ return.
Mnuchin said the text of the tax reform package will be released in late August. It is expected that markup of the legislation in committees will be done in September. They expect the House to pass tax reform in October and the Senate will pass in November.
Hopefully, tax reform can be passed using regular order, but Leadership is willing to use reconciliation to pass it if needed.
Setting aside the very optimistic schedule of tax reform (The last major overhaul of tax policy was in 1986 and it took 300 days), it seems unlikely tax reform can pass the Senate under regular order.
With 52 Republicans Senators, eight Democrats would have to cross over and vote for the legislation. And, even then, it will only pass if no Republicans vote against it and if Senator McCain returns to Washington in time to vote, and votes correctly.
It is less than certain Republican leadership could muster the votes from every member of their caucus.
Susan Collins once voted to increase taxes on people earning more than $1 million a year.
Six Republican senators have refused to sign the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” They are:
• Jeff Flake (AZ)
• Chuck Grassley (IA)
• Susan Collins (ME)
• John Hoeven (ND)
• Mike Rounds (SD)
• John Barrasso (WY)
And on top of all that, health care reform may not be dead. President Trump has called on Congress to continue working on health care reform.
Earlier this month, the House Freedom Caucus announced they would start circulating a discharge petition demanding a vote on a “clean repeal” of ObamaCare. This is the same legislation both chambers of Congress passed two years ago, and President Obama vetoed.
September looks to be a busy month for Congress. America’s Liberty Committee will keep an eye on Congress and in contact with our sources on Capitol Hill to give you the best information possible and to lobby Congress on your behalf.