Recently I complimented the decision and Congress’ action to package three must pass issues into a single bill and pass it. Theoretically that left the rest of September to act on things like renewing the flood insurance program and CHIPs. In the interim an initial aid package for Hurricane Irma relief became a front burner issue. President Trump dumped the DACA mess back into Congress’ lap. The talk you commonly hear is that they have six months to act when in reality Trump’s action starts negatively impacting real people’s lives in October. That is still a lot on the table without ever even considering tax reform or an infrastructure package. Let’s explore how Congress is scheduled to handle this slate.
Starting with Monday of this week the Senate is in session 13 days; the House 8. The last working day of this month is Friday September 29th on which the House is not scheduled to be in session. At the start of this week a “joint Congress” had 12 working days.
Monday was September 11th. Many members weren’t even in town scattered around the country for 9/11 memorials. Nothing much gets done on Mondays in Washington and this one will be no different. Of those “joint days” only the Senate is in session Friday the 15th, Monday the 18th, Tuesday the 19th and Wednesday the 20th. I fully realize the House can pass legislation and go out of town while the Senate takes it up. With Paul Ryan’s “leadership ability” and a much fractured GOP House caucus what do you think the chances of getting much done are? Nancy Pelosi had to come to his rescue to get the basics passed earlier this month.
I think Irma aid is a sure thing. It might again necessitate that the Democrats bail out the Republicans but one way or another I feel confident that it will get done.
With the nation reeling from Harvey and Irma it is difficult to imagine that the flood insurance program would fail to be renewed, but stranger votes have been cast in this Congress. I image this will take some sort of bargain but again I feel it will see passage.
DACA is a political hot potato which Congress has been unable to resolve for years. They (and most of America) are operating under the assumption that they have six months to act. My guess is that they will do nothing in the long run and I am certain they will not act in September. I don’t even expect a committee hearing let alone a bill reaching the floor of either chamber this month. If they took action I doubt that will happen before the end of this year. I also expect a poison pill to be added to any proposed DACA legislation.
The CHIPs program is a bit heavier of a lift than flood insurance. It would be simply immoral to let it expire, but most of the GOP Congressional delegation is devoid of morals. I certainly hope there are enough Republican votes to supplement the Democrats. I can’t see even the most extreme Republican Senator filibustering it, but lately American politics has been full of surprises.
We badly need an infrastructure package – we have for years for that matter. My concern is how it is packaged. If the Trump administration draws up the plan and it resembles anything like what they talked about during the campaign it will be as much a license to steal as it will be an infrastructure package. (Remember that at its core this administration is an organized criminal enterprise.) A properly constructed infrastructure package should have been the Trump administration’s first legislative effort. It would have had overwhelming bi-partisan support. As we currently stand I doubt it will see the light of day and certainly it will not pass in September.
The tax reform proposal was never anything more than a tax cut plan disproportionately benefitting the very wealthy. True tax reform is extremely complex and fraught with deep pocketed special interest roadblocks. The current “plan” is virtually non-existent. If anyone thinks that this Congress is going to pass tax reform in a matter of days they must be waiting for the tooth fairy in their spare time.
All this analysis didn’t even touch two other issues. While Hurricane Jose isn’t projected to hit the states it will likely hit the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. That means a lot of American lives will be adversely affected. We have a moral responsibility to them also.
Then there is the unknown. There may not be an unforeseen matter that commands Congress’ attention over the remainder of this month, but then again there very well may be.
Am I the only one who thinks these people take too many days off?
Note: I wrote this article on the morning of September 11th and have little concern that my early projections will be proven incorrect by publishing.
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