With Labor Day weekend signaling the official close to summer, children will begin returning to school to start a new year of learning and growing. Similarly, Congress will also be returning to work after their August recess. While I’m not implying that our elected officials are similar to school children – they will have to remember how to share and play well with others if they expect to accomplish anything for the rest of the year.
The summer homework for Members of Congress included a variety of activities like hosting Town Hall meetings, visiting community organizations (including some local Goodwill® organizations), and hitting the base to talk about their priorities (tax reform for many GOP Members and revised messaging in the “Better Deal” plan for many Democrats). Hopefully they’ll return energized and with their sleeves rolled up after hearing from their constituents – especially since the 2018 mid-term election is looming on the horizon.
Two of the top assignments for Congress to tackle include addressing the debt ceiling and funding the government. Here is the tricky part, they have 12 working legislative days to get this done. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has notified Congress that it is “critical” for the debt limit to be extended by September 29th to ensure that the Treasury can continue funding the obligations of the federal government. The federal government could shut down if Congress doesn’t pass a funding bill by October 1st. Furthermore, the Children’s Health Insurance Program is up for renewal and the National Flood Insurance Program expires on September 30th. In light of the recent destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, a disaster relief package may also be on the table.
As Congress returns to work, our job as citizens will be similar to teachers who provides scores and track progress of the work, or like a parent who helps their children with their school assignments. We have to hold our elected officials accountable for their decisions, and we have an opportunity to be a reliable resource for them as they form their positions by sharing the real-world policy implications of their votes. It’s not acceptable to potentially shutdown the government or default on our debt because they can’t work together. It’s unfair for people and organizations who rely on public funding to be in a constant state of uncertainty about whether their programs are going to be fully funded or even eliminated. GII’s Legislative Action Center is a great resource to help you fulfill those roles. By registering, one can stay up to date on our issues, contact lawmakers, and share a story about how the potential budget cuts will affect you. Collectively our efforts will help our country maintain a passing grade!