Traffic is about to get really bad – really quickly – again in D.C. Our elected officials are returning to work on a full agenda that took a sharp turn last week, focusing on if and how the United States will get involved with Syria.
The 113th Congress hasn’t necessarily been a hotbed of activity – with only 31 bills passed so far (and with hot topics including the size of precious-metal blanks that can be used in commemorative coin production for the National Baseball Hall of Fame (HR 1071) and six bills that name bridges, buildings, or sections of bills in honor of someone). The 113th Congress has been coined the laziest Congress – ever.
Their agenda for remainder of the year looks like this:
- Pass the remaining appropriations bills (so that we have a budget for 2014).
- Congress is already discussing a stopgap bill that would continue funding at FY 2013 rates so they can focus on Syria and how that would affect the budget (even though conservatives want to see it a lower rate of $967 billion rather than $988 billion) – and to hold off a government shutdown.
- Currently, of the 12 agencies with appropriations bills, only four (Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs) have been passed solely by the House. That leaves a lot of work for the Senate and Joint Committees in order to meet the Sept. 30 deadline.
- Vote on a resolution to determine U.S. involvement in and response to Syria
- How will this affect sequestration and the budget?
- Work has begun in the House and Senate on this initiative. The Senate is looking to vote on a “use-of-force” resolution (with many saying it may not pass); if voting today, the House would not have the support to pass the resolution.
- If Congress isn’t looking to work well with the President – and given the other items to be passed on the agenda – we could be facing quite a stand-off between Congress and the President this fall (and really up until the next elections).
- Tax Reform
- It’s looking like Tax Reform will take a backseat. While there may be a mark-up of the bill, it more than likely won’t come to the floor until 2014.
- Immigration Reform
- There’s a significant amount of skepticism about whether anything will happen with Immigration Reform this fall – especially now with Syria at the forefront of everyone’s minds. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill in late June to tighten border security and create a process to legalize the 11 million undocumented immigrants, but the House has vowed not to pass this and would more than likely break up the components of Immigration Reform and pass them separately.
- Reauthorize the Workforce Redevelopment Act
- Water Resources Development Act
For now, all eyes are on what will happen with the U.S. involvement in Syria – and then how that will affect the agenda and whether everyone can work together after that has been decided.