Congress Returns to a Lengthy To-Do List

After breaking for its Easter and Passover recess, Congress returns back to Washington D.C. next week to a full plate of legislative items, including some urgent must-pass legislation.
Fiscal 2017 Funding: The foremost important item for lawmakers will be to fund the federal government through September 30. With the current continuing resolution (CR) set to expire on April 28, lawmakers have given themselves very little time to pass the legislation necessary to avoid a government shutdown. Republican leadership remains optimistic that a deal can be reached. However, with any agreement needing some bipartisan support, democrats are expected to drive a hard bargain during funding negotiation. It is likely that Congress may pass a week-long temporary spending bill to buy more time. Once lawmakers reach an agreement on this year, they will turn their attention to FY18 funding. Goodwill Industries International (GII) will continue to advocate for funding for job-training programs of interest.
Health Care: After the failure of House republicans to unite behind a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it’s expected that republican leadership will attempt to revive these efforts again over the next few weeks. Congressional democrats remain unified in their opposition to any healthcare alternative that eliminates the most popular elements of the ACA, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions. It will be up to House republicans to strike an agreement among their own caucus before sending any legislation to the Senate.
Tax Reform: Sticking to one of their main campaign promises to overhaul the nation’s complex tax code, look for congressional republicans to start the process of rewriting the corporate and individual tax codes. Tax reform very well may be addressed before any agreement to repeal the ACA, while other pundits note it may be delayed and potentially tied to an infrastructure investment. In the meantime, the White House is drafting a new tax reform proposal, with officials considering a range of policy options beyond what republicans in Congress have put forward. GII will monitor these proposals closely and will work with the nonprofit sector to ensure that charitable giving incentives are unharmed in any tax reform proposal.
Everything Else: These issues are only a few of the big-ticket items Congress is expected to address when they return next week, but much more remains. Congress still must reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, provide funds for federal flood insurance and the Federal Aviation Administration, and start negotiations on raising the nation’s debt ceiling. And to make things more complicated, most legislation will require 60 votes in the divided Senate.
As the Trump Presidency approaches the 100 day mark, House and Senate republicans will shift into gear to help the new administration accomplish some of its policy and legislative goals. Spring is gearing up to be a very busy time in Washington, D.C. Stay tuned!