Too Much Work…Too Little Time

CapitolCongress is facing its annual year-end panic with too many topics promised for resolution and not enough time to get things done before the first session of the 115th Congress draws to a close:

  • Appropriations: The Senate still has not marked up an FY 18 spending bill for EPA.  The current continuing resolution (CR) expires in about three and a half weeks and no decisions have been made on how to bring this to a close.  Three other appropriations accounts – defense, financial services, and homeland security – also still await Senate action.  Speculation is high that there will be another short-term CR that may last into early 2018.
  • Emergency Funding: Puerto Rico has asked for $94.4 billion just for its own recovery and restoration from Hurricane Maria.  Coupled with additional supplemental funding requests from Texas (Harvey), Florida (Irma), and California (wildfires), the total “ask” could reach as high as $200 billion.  Nothing is expected to happen before Thanksgiving, but it remains to be seen as to how much funding is made available.
  • Budget Caps: Nobody likes the spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, but there is no easy fix for the problem.  This is another unresolved issue that continues to plague Congress as it tries to fund projects that, cumulatively, far exceed the self-imposed caps designed to bring discipline to Federal spending.
  • Tax Reform: The debates rage on with no apparent end in sight.  The differences between the House and Senate approaches are significant.  Party leaders on both sides of the aisle want to bring this work to a close but, as with so many issues, there is little agreement as to the best path forward.

These are just some of the “big ticket” items that Congress wrestles with.  Other issues such as continuing health care and aging infrastructure are chronic contenders for action.