Congress Returns to Packed January Agenda
2017 ended on a politically chaotic note with two last minute government shut downs avoided, an ongoing fight regarding DACA, natural disaster response disagreements, and the largest tax reform effort in a generation all occurring simultaneously. Many of these disputes remain unresolved, and must be addressed before the current funding bill expires on February 8.
First, the two chambers must reach an agreement to once again set aside the spending caps established in the Budget Control Act, or “Sequestration”, that placed limits on federal spending for both defense and domestic discretionary programs. The House has signaled they would like to bust the cap for defense spending but not domestic discretionary accounts, which the Senate is unlikely to accept. However, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) noted an agreement could be reached following a meeting with President Trump and legislative leaders., Once an agreement is reached, Appropriators will negotiate a funding measure for the entire government.
As is typically the case with these large, must pass pieces of legislation, a number of policy riders could be attached. Some of the issues lawmakers will seek to resolve alongside the funding bill are an extension of the debt ceiling, a border security/DACA compromise, extension of controversial surveillance programs, extension of the National Flood Insurance program, a disaster relief supplemental for areas impacted by last year’s hurricanes and fires, funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the extension of a number of expiring tax credits.