August Recess Begins in Both Chambers; Priorities for September
The Senate began its August recess last Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had announced in early July that the Senate would remain in session for the first two weeks of August to give Republicans additional time to finalize their version of Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal legislation. Senators left DC after one additional week with no repeal of the ACA.
The House left for its August recess on July 28. Both chambers will remain on recess until after Labor Day.
When members of Congress return in September, they will attempt to focus their efforts on two priorities: (1) Increasing the government's debt limit to prevent a default on U.S. obligations such as interest payments and Social Security checks; and (2) Passing one or more spending bills to fund government agencies in FY 2018. In addition, the Trump administration and congressional Republicans are promising action early this fall to overhaul the tax code and lower taxes for both corporations and individuals.
It may be challenging for Congress to achieve all of these goals by the end of September. The Senate has scheduled 17 legislative days in September, while the House has only 12. The imminent deadline for passing spending legislation for FY 2018 (September 30, 2017) means that Congress will likely be forced to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded during negotiations over FY 2018 appropriations later in the fall.
A complicating factor in the upcoming spending negotiations will be the Administration’s demands for US-Mexico border wall funding. Democrats have said they will not vote for any spending bill that includes funding for the border wall.
Another task for next month is raising of the debt ceiling, which must be accomplished by September 29 in order for the US to avoid a default on obligations. Negotiations on raising the debt limit have yet to begin in earnest. More conservative members of the House Republican caucus have demanded deep spending cuts as the price for raising the debt ceiling. Democrats say they want a “clean” debt ceiling bill, a goal shared by the Trump administration.
As for the goal of tax reform, House leaders plan to adopt a FY 2018 budget resolution upon their return from recess, which would allow Republicans to use reconciliation procedures for their tax reform legislation (meaning the legislation would only need 51 votes to pass the Senate). Before they can bring the budget plan to the floor, however, Republican House leaders must resolve differences among members of their caucus about how deep proposed cuts to entitlement programs should be and what should be included in the tax package. Rather than waiting for the House to act, Senate leaders say they plan to press forward writing their own budget resolution in September.
Important Summer Recess Activities for You:
With members of both chambers of Congress on summer recess for the next few weeks, now is a great time to raise your voice for WIC with your Senators and Representatives! Here are some ways you can be a strong advocate for WIC while your legislators are home on recess:
Providing legislators with an inside-look into what WIC does and who WIC serves helps to emphasize how important the program is and show policymakers that WIC is worth protecting.