With Congress gaveling back in on September 5 after an eventful August recess, the House and Senate have an ever-increasing to-do list and a narrowing timeline in which to complete it. The list of items to be addressed by the end of September includes:
- raising the debt ceiling
- funding the federal government
- reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Federal Aviation Administration and National Flood Insurance Program
- passing a National Defense Authorization Act.
This timeline is further complicated by the urgent need to address funding and relief for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. We believe that Harvey Relief will be included with a broader package to fund the federal government and, as such, minimize the risk of a government shutdown.
If and when these legislative hurdles are addressed, Congress has plenty more to accomplish as it stares down the precipice of a 2018 election year in which action will be made more difficult by politics. The bicameral Republican majorities in Congress may pursue some form of health care market stabilization fix after efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) failed. The White House appears to be charging ahead full speed with its efforts to pass tax reform and deliver the President a signature legislative victory. On August 30, the President went to Springfield, Missouri, to kick off his public campaign for tax reform. The speech highlighted the need to provide relief for middle-class families in the form of cuts to individual income tax rates, reduce corporate taxes from 35 to 15 percent and repatriate profits that are held overseas, simplify the tax code so that fewer Americans have to rely on tax preparation professional help, and generally make the system more conducive to job growth and higher wages. However, complications are expected to arise as the tax writing committees in Congress begin to unveil their versions of tax reform legislation that may not conform with the President’s vision.
All of these developments are unfolding in the wake of the President’s recent announcement to bolster American military involvement in Afghanistan, which has divided both the public and members of Congress.
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