Avoiding Shutdown, Investigations, Health Issues: Congress Has A Busy Month Ahead

The House and Senate will soon both be back in Washington, and they have a long month ahead with lots to cover.

Tuesday, September 5th 2023, 6:08 pm


After more than a month home in their districts, members of Congress are making their way back to the nation’s capital this week for what looks to be a busy and consequential September. With the Senate back this week and the House returning next week, there will be important decisions made regarding disaster relief funds, aid for Ukraine, and a possible impeachment inquiry, but nothing more significant, in the short term anyway, than avoiding a government shutdown.

And that is going to require that Congress pass a stopgap funding measure -- a continuing resolution (CR) -- before the end of the fiscal year, September 30, to give negotiators more time to craft a broader spending plan.

The far-right Freedom Caucus, however, insists a government shutdown is nothing to fear and, in fact, should be used as leverage to force the spending concessions they are demanding: the return to pre-COVID funding levels for all discretionary spending, with the exception of defense. They have vowed to oppose any continuing resolution that does not include these reductions.

Democrats, who control the Senate, say that is a non-starter and even Republicans in the Senate a shutdown should be avoided at all costs.

"I think Speaker McCarthy should have the independence to negotiate with his team on that side and bring together enough votes to pass it," Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) said on CNN. "Because what we do know is a government shutdown is not good for anybody."

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine now in its 18th month, the Biden administration is also asking Congress to include $24 billion in new aid for Ukraine in the CR, along with $16 billion in relief funding to help FEMA provide aid to victims of Hurricane Idalia and other disasters.

In Florida touring storm damage this past weekend, President Biden said he's confident Congress will come through.

"There are going to be fights about things that don't relate to this, trying to connect this to other money or not, you know, but I think we'll get through it," Biden told reporters, "I just can't imagine people saying, no, they're not going to help."

While this plays out, all eyes will be on Speaker McCarthy to see if he opens an impeachment inquiry of the President, based on information coming out of the GOP's investigations into his son Hunter, which is another reason some Republican don't want to toy with the possibility of a shutdown.

"If funding is stalled, if there's a government shutdown," Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) told Fox News, "that would stop all of these investigations. That's absolutely the wrong thing."

There are also some serious health issues to follow this fall -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had a second freezing incident last week, Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) was just diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and Oklahoma’s own Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK3) is recovering from surgery after breaking his hip while working on his ranch a month ago.


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