Congress back in session, back to work

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

There is a lot on Congress’s plate before it leaves for the November recess.

With so much work and so little time, Bob Cusack, managing editor of The Hill, said he thinks “a lot of pending legislation is going to be kicked until the lame duck session after the elections.”

If nothing else, the debates will be controversial. The Defense Authorization Bill will be on the Senate floor next week and, according to Cusack, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he wants to tackle an immigration bill as part of that bill. Expect the “don’t ask, don’t tell” issue to be included. Whether they’ll have the votes to get it through the Senate, said Cusack, “remains to be seen”.


Tax Cuts

Tax cuts are the “leading issue driving Congress right now.” Both parities are split over the issue for varying reasonss. “What actually will get done, I think, is very minimal.” Watch for the issue to carry over until after the elections.

Telework Improvement Act

Not very controversial. After a rough patch in the House, it now has bipartisan backing from Frank Wolf (R-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and others. “I think that’s a bill,” said Cusack, “that could be folded into a continuing resolution or some type of massive bill that’s moving through” and use the momentum to carry though. “It’s one of those bills that’s going to be attached to a train that’s moving and that’s what the sponsors are going to be looking for,” maybe not in this month, said Cusack. “Probably in a lame duck.”

Continuing Resolution

In order to prevent a government shutdown, Congress must pass a way to fund the federal government within the next few weeks. “What we’ve seen before,” said Cusack, “is that Congress will pass a continuing resolution with the hopes of passing a larger, more substantive bill as opposed to the status quo funding levels and then they pass another continuing resolution.” So a CR now, kick the can, and another CR is possible during the lame duck, said Cusack.

Other Bills Impacting Feds

Cybersecurity is a top issue in Congress, said Cusack. “The other bills are certainly priorities, but mostly priorities of the sponsors of the bills and that’s where they’re going to be looking to say ‘okay let’s get the telework bill, let’s get these other bills (like) hiring practices, let’s get them in a moving vehicle’ whether that’s a big appropriations bill or maybe that’s just a big tax bill and just get onto that train and maybe it passes.” Those decisions, said Cusack, could come “a day or two before they adjourn, whether it’s before the elections or for the year in December.”