Congress Returns from Recess

By Laura Walling, GII senior director of government affairs, advocacy & legislative affairs

As Congress wraps up their first week back in session after a six-week long recess, much remains on their list of priorities. First and foremost is to hammer out a deal to keep the government open past the September 30 end of the fiscal year. While the House has passed 10 of the 12 appropriations bills, at the time of this writing, the Senate hasn’t passed any. Many of the programs of interest to Goodwill® and the people we serve are in the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education spending bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee planned on marking up this bill first, but it was pulled due to a dispute over family planning.

Lawmakers assume that all of the appropriations measures won’t reach the President’s desk by the deadline, and House Democrats have begun work on a continuing resolution that would fund the government through November 21. The House expects to take up the measure the week of September 16. The administration sent its wish list of “anomalies” to adjust funding under such a measure. Which adjustments make the cut, or whether lawmakers simply extend current funding levels, remains to be seen. It’s also worth noting that there are less than 40 days until the end of the year in which both chambers plan to be in session.

The Senate also has plans to confirm Eugene Scalia as the next Secretary of Labor, replacing Alexander Acosta who stepped down in July. The first confirmation hearing is scheduled for September 19. The son of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the president’s pick, is expected to draw both criticism from Democrats and strong support from the business community and Republicans.

Gun control, drug prices and defense programs are on the docket for House Democrats. The House Republicans embark on a policy retreat September 12 – 14 in Baltimore, MD where they will discuss their priorities and hear from President Trump. Meanwhile, concerns of an economic downturn, trade war developments, election security discussions, immigration, investigations of the Trump Administration, retirement announcements and the noise of the 2020 elections continue to provide a cacophonous background. However, many of these items may be blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate. This fall, we can most likely count on a stopgap funding measure to avoid a government shutdown, more nominations in the Senate and foliage somewhere. Everything else is up in the air.

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