Congress struggles to pass critical legislation before August recess

Published: Jul 28, 2014 20:03pm EDT
By Rick Rinker, Political Editor for Konsume Politics

Please Note: This article was updated Jul 28, 2014 @ 08:03pm EDT


With the myriad of domestic issues facing the nation, Congress is struggling to get even the most popular and least controversial measures passed.

There are many critical issues which have been with Congress for several weeks, including highway funding, solutions to border control / immigration, an overhaul to veteran’s affairs, and the looming deadline to fund the government to avert a shutdown on October 1st.

Congress begins a five-week recess on August 1st, and then only returns for 10 days in September before the new fiscal year begins. This leaves the very real possibility that another government shutdown is on the horizon.

The most likely of legislation to be passed before the Congressional recess is VA system funding, a measure that is popular in the wake of the VA scandal several weeks ago. It was announced on Monday that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) has agreed to a deal that would provide the Department of Veteran Affairs with approximately $17b.

The majority of these funds would go to building infrastructure, hiring additional doctors and allowing veterans to seek healthcare solutions outside of the department. This agreement would still need to be passed by both the House as well as the Senate, though this seems the most probable of all to be passed before the break.

The more pressing issue, which appears less likely to be resolved prior to the break, is border-crisis funding. President Obama initially requested $3.7b in humanitarian aid for child immigrants and border security, while the Senate proposed $2.7b to accomplish these goals.

House Republicans have countered the Senate proposal with less than $1b, which is focused squarely at border enforcement, but not resolving the humanitarian issue of caring for children who have crossed the border alone.

As it stands now the President has threatened executive action if Congress fails to act on the border, though this may ultimately be a temporary band-aid rather than a long-term solution.

Meanwhile, the one thing almost sure to come out of Congress prior to the August recess is the Republican’s planned lawsuit against the administration for allegedly overstepping its constitutional authority.

No matter how things play out this week two things are all but certain, the 113th Congress will go down as one of the least productive in the history of the Nation, and the 2014 mid-term elections will be more about partisanship than substance.


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