Bloomberg's Hill Watch

Fiscal Issues To Dominate Lawmakers' Fall Agenda As They Return To Capitol Hill

Once again, a threat of shut-down

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 5, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Congress returns to face a crowded agenda dominated by fiscal issues beginning with government funding and borrowing authority and ending with proposals to rewrite the tax code, according to Bloomberg BNA’s fall 2017 edition of Hill Watch.

A semi-annual, in-depth look into the Capitol Hill legislative calendar, Hill Watch is published by Bloomberg Government’s Daily Report for Executives™, which offers in-depth coverage of leading legislative, regulatory, and judicial developments from the nation’s capital, the states, and around the world.

To access a complimentary copy of the complete fall 2017 Hill Watch report, visit

Funding the government

“September will be a busy month for Congress as it must pass legislation to continue funding the government — which will likely include emergency disaster relief for areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey — as well as extend federal programs due to expire this month including the National Flood Insurance Program and the Federal Aviation Administration’s operations,” said Heather Rothman, news director, Bloomberg BNA’s Government division.

“At the same time, lawmakers will begin work in earnest to raise the federal debt limit to avoid the first default in U.S. history. If they are successful in funding the government and raising the debt limit, GOP leaders will be free to work on other priorities including boosting Pentagon spending levels and passing a long-delayed fiscal 2018 budget resolution that would set the stage for the tax overhaul plan.”

Hill Watch is filled with an analysis and outlook of bills on a wide range of issues in front of both houses of Congress. Legislation affecting agriculture, campaign finance, communications, environment, financial institutions, government contracts, health care, immigration, international trade, securities, taxation and transportation — among other issues — are covered in the 2017 Fall Hill Watch.

lawmakers will begin work in earnest to raise the federal debt limit to avoid the first default in U.S. history

Excerpts from the Bloomberg 2017 Hill Watch

Money Issues to Dominate Lawmakers’ Packed Fall Agenda
Congress returns to work Sept. 5 to face a crowded agenda dominated by fiscal issues, beginning with government
funding and borrowing authority and ending with proposals to rewrite the tax code.The immediate job for House Speaker Paul Ryan (RWis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (RKy.) is to prevent a lapse in federal money on Sept. 30
by passing stopgap spending legislation that is likely to include emergency disaster relief for areas devastated
by Hurricane Harvey. Also early in the new session, lawmakers must raise the federal debt limit to avoid the first default in U.S. history. The Treasury Department expects to have exhausted by early- to mid-October its tools to cover the nation’s borrowing authority.

An across-the-board, stopgap spending measure known as a continuing resolution is necessary to prevent
a shutdown, as none of the 12 spending bills for the new fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 have been sent to
President Donald Trump.

Republican leaders and the White House have been discussing such a bill, possibly
to stretch appropriations into December.
At the same time, lawmakers are weighing whether to use that must-pass bill to extend a number of federal
programs due to expire Sept. 30, including the National Flood Insurance Program and the Federal Aviation Administration’s operations.
Action on a continuing resolution that might also lift or suspend the debt limit then would buy time for GOP
leaders to work on other priorities, including a Defense Department authorization bill boosting Pentagon
spending levels and the long-delayed fiscal 2018 budget resolution that would set the stage for the tax overhaul
plan that Ryan continues to advocate.

A CR also would give leaders time to revisit the Budget Control Act and try to strike a deal to again raise the
BCA’s spending caps. Lawmakers in both parties want to increase defense and domestic spending above the
cap’s levels in order to revise their appropriations bills upward and then finish them by way of a $1.1 trillion
omnibus at year’s end.

Threat of Shutdown on Rise

The challenges facing Ryan and McConnell to deliver on Trump’s agenda are steadily growing. Besides the shortness of the year, relations between Trump and party leaders are strained and the president is ramping up calls for a shutdown if he doesn’t get what he wants in a stopgap, beginning with $1.6 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.Following Trump’s criticism for not finishing a health-care bill, Ryan and McConnell are trying to move quickly on spending matters.

Ryan plans to bring an eight-bill omnibus appropriations package to the House floor the week of Sept. 5 and then combine that with the four bills the House passed before the break. If Ryan can get sufficient votes from Republicans, he plans to then send the 12-bill package on to the Senate. But  Democrats have said they would block that omnibus because it exceeds the spending parameters in the BCA.After that, attention will turn to the length and details of a CR. Passing one might not be easy, as the support
of the House Freedom Caucus for the leaders’ plans remains in doubt, and

Democrats have signaled they
won’t vote for a bill that includes border wall money. Besides the consideration of the CR, McConnell’s
plan to bring the Defense Department authorization bill to the floor beginning the week of Sept. 5 will put
spending issues front and center. Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) bid to greatly
increase Pentagon spending will jump-start this fall’s negotiation over raising the BCA caps.

Other spending also could be in the mix
Trump may soon ask Congress for a multibillion-dollar emergency
supplemental measure to aid Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. In addition, the president could seek
money for the troop increase he wants in Afghanistan, the opioid crisis, and more.Plans to Bring Up Budget Spending levels also will be debated if Ryan follows through with plans to bring up
the FY 2018 budget resolution in September. McConnell is said to be planning to have the Senate take up the
matter by early October.Action on the budget is seen as the first step for McConnell to bring up a tax code rewrite without having
to deal with the filibuster rule.

However, even advocates of comprehensive tax policy change say there isn’t
enough time or consensus to undertake such an ambitious effort this year. Instead, they say, a smaller package
might be the focus of the fall, including tax cuts for corporations and individuals.

The non-fiscal matters that the House may debate include an FAA reauthorization bill that would turn over
air traffic control to a corporation that the bill would create. It remains unclear, though, whether there are
enough votes to pass the bill.The Senate FAA reauthorization bill doesn’t include the air traffic control spinoff language, though it has a
provision on pilot training that has sparked the ire of Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Given the
controversy in both chambers’ multi-year reauthorization bills, an extension of current FAA authority is expected

Read the entire report here.


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