Congress Returns This Week for a Blistering Session Before the Elections

Members of Congress and their staff are putting on their running shoes for one last 17 day sprint before the November 8 elections during which control of the House, Senate, and Presidency will be determined. Here is a run-down of some high-priority items on the Congressional agenda:

  • Appropriations:The 2017 Federal Fiscal Year begins October 1, however there is the distinct possibility of a partial government shutdown if Congress doesnā€™t enact a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the government at current levels until shortly after the November elections. Top level Democrats and Republicans in both Chambers are currently engaged in a tug of war over whether to pass a short-term CR, an omnibus funding bill that lasts until after the new President submits their budget request to Congress, or some hybrid thereof. Parallel to this is a raging fight over a bill that would provide funding to combat the Zika crisis, but would also defund Planned Parenthood, among other things. While that bill is expected to fail, the politics could spill over into the larger government funding debate.
  • National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): For over 50 consecutive years Congress has enacted the NDAA, which helps direct funding for the US military and Department of Defense activities. No policymaker wants to be held responsible if this record is broken, and as such, it is seen as one of the few must-pass bills each year in Congress.
  • Energy Bill: There is a strong push by a broad group of stakeholders and Members of Congress from both Parties to complete work on the Energy Bill (S.2012), as it contains a diverse set of improvements that appeal to efficiency advocates, those in favor of liquefied national gas (LNG) export approval reforms, and many others. However, there are many controversial issues that remain undecided ā€“ not the least of which are the building energy codes provisions in the House-passed version of this bill.