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Congress Returns With Daunting To-Do List

Congress Returns With Daunting To-Do List by Elizabeth Varley, Columbia Threadneedle Investments

  • Preventing a government shutdown will be a key priority as Congress reconvenes. Opportunities to forge ahead on new policy will be limited as fiscal challenges continue to demand attention.
  • A long-term highway funding bill may fall off the to-do list while the potential for international tax reform continues to wane as 2016 presidential politics intervenes.
  • The Iran treaty and the papal visit are getting attention now, but the scheduled visit with Chinese leadership should provide a helpful push for cyber-security legislation.

Congress has returned to Washington from their summer recess and they face a daunting list of to-dos. An already difficult environment for legislating, the September calendar provides limited opportunity to advance priorities with only ten legislative days scheduled. Initially, the focus will be on resolutions to disapprove of the joint nation treaty with Iran – a vote must take place by September 17. At this point, it appears that the United States will be a party to the treaty as Democratic defections are moderate. Elected officials will also be sidelined from legislative work to observe religious holidays as well as participate in the first papal address to Congress on September 24.

With minimal time to operate in September, Congressional leaders are hoping to finalize a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown when the current fiscal year ends on September 30...