Congress is back in session today after their August recess. They left several doors open before they adjourned for the summer. This means that we should expect quite a bit out of the Congressional chambers in the coming weeks. Here are some big ticket items to watch for over the next few months.

  1. The debt ceiling. At the forefront of the agenda is the debt ceiling. This is the amount of debt that the Treasury can have outstanding. This is the money that Congress will use to pay the bills. In order to avoid a government shutdown, Congress must vote to raise the debt ceiling by September 30th. Previously, President Trump stated that he was willing to veto any budget bill that didn’t include funding for his wall on the US/Mexico border.  If Congress can’t come to agreement on this, the government defaulting on their debt is highly probable and a government shutdown is almost inevitable. The last time this happened was in 2013 under the Obama Administration. Lack of action could create budget issues in the future, high interest rates, and very real economic repercussions.

  2. Immigration. The recent hot topic in the political sphere has been whether Trump will reverse Obama’s action through DACA. Through an executive order, President Obama passed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, allowing almost 800,000 immigrants who arrived in the United States as kids to stay. Now, several sources are saying that President Trump plans to pull the plug on DACA, essentially reversing Obama’s key immigration policy. The supposed six-month delay in action would allow Congress time to pass legislation allowing the affected undocumented immigrants to stay in the country.

  3. Healthcare. After multiple attempts on the part of Republicans in Congress to pass a healthcare reform bill, John McCain came back from surgery and squashed that hope by voting no on the skinny repeal. What happens now? Will Trump leave it be? Is there more action to come? The President has claimed several times that he is willing to leave the Obamacare system alone andlet Obamacare fail on its own. Whether Trump or Republicans in Congress will actually do this, no one knows. Many think that if action is going to be taken, it must be done by September 30th. That’s the end of the fiscal year for the federal government.

  4. Tax reform. With the lack of Affordable Healthcare Act repeal, tax reform is high on President Trump’s priority list now. The administration and Congressional Republicans are looking for a big ticket piece of legislation for the midterms next year. Tax reform could be it. As part of a complete overhaul, the administration is calling for lower corporate tax rates, lower income tax rates, and lower taxes for small businesses. Many lawmakers as well as voters expect significant action out of the administration on this issue, due to the level at which President Trump campaigned for it. Officials say a detailed plan could come out in the next few weeks.

  5. Hurricane relief. After the recent disasters in Texas, thousands are without homes, without flood insurance, and in need of some serious help. Harvey could be one of the costliest natural disasters in the history of the United States. This is where the federal government steps in. The White House has asked Congress to approve nearly $8 billion in aid for the hurricane victims. This money could potentially be tacked onto the debt ceiling that Congress has yet to raise. This might add several complications to obtaining the necessary aid. Due to the increasingly partisan divide regarding the budget and federal money, there’s no telling how long it may take to receive this funding.

Needless to say, there are several action items Congress has on its to-do list over the course of the next few months. Which of these gets accomplished will depend on several factors including bipartisanship, the White House cooperating on certain points, and of course, the looming potential of a government shutdown. Either way, Congress will have to take some action to keep the United States government afloat.

Emily W
FFL Cabinet
Emily is an aspiring Elle Woods with a hint of Nancy Reagan. Searching for cute dogs on instagram is only a side hobby to politics. When she's not teaching people about conservatism in Starbucks, you can catch her meeting princesses at Disney or binge watching Gilmore Girls and The West Wing for the millionth time.

Read more articles