Today on the Hill: Congress Reaches July 4 Recess With Daunting Schedule Ahead

June 30, 2017

Congress has left for the July 4 recess, and will return to Washington the week of July 10. Awaiting lawmakers is a daunting agenda of major policy initiatives and must-pass items, with a limited calendar in which to pass them. Of course, chief among those items is the stalled effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as Republican leaders in the Senate work feverishly to craft a package that will be able to pass the upper chamber before the August recess. President Trump again weighed in on the effort in a statement on Twitter this morning, saying that if the current package fails, Congress should “immediately REPEAL and then REPLACE at a later date!” While Republicans had originally considered that option in February when their health care initiative first started, it is unlikely that moderates will go along with a new plan to repeal that would strip coverage and place a great deal of uncertainty in insurance markets. It remains far more probable that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will return from the July 4 recess with a package that includes a number of the legislative tweaks and make a last-ditch effort to pass the existing legislation.

Lawmakers will also be hoping to make progress on a set of must-pass items, most of which have deadlines at the end of the fiscal year on Sep. 30. Among the issues that must be addressed are a debt ceiling hike, government funding for the fiscal 2018 year, reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), renewed user fee agreements (so-called UFAs) for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). While most of those items will likely wait until after the August recess to see floor action, lawmakers may look to get a head start at the end of July in order to make the month of September more manageable, with a debt ceiling rise the most likely to see early action.  

The Senate is scheduled to return Monday, July 10 and the House a day later on Tuesday, July 11.