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As we’ve reported, Congress entered September with a hefty to-do list. How is it doing?
Keeping government open. Done, for three months. Congress passed a short-term federal spending bill that keeps the lights on until Dec. 8.
Avoiding the debt ceiling. Done, for several months. In the same bill, Congress raised the debt ceiling to whatever level it hits on Dec. 8. The Treasury Department can then effectively push back a hard deadline on the debt ceiling to early spring. (Check out our video explaining the nutty debt ceiling, including how we got one.)
Flood insurance. Done, for three months. The nation’s flood insurance program was set to expire Sept. 30. Congress also punted on this, extending the program until Dec. 8.
Children’s health care. Almost done. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health care for 9 million kids, is set to expire Sept. 30. Two key senators from each party have agreed on a deal to extend it for five years. But it still must pass both chambers.
FAA and air traffic control. Not done. The Federal Aviation Administration’s authorization runs out Sept. 30, but it’s caught in a larger, controversial debate over reforming the agency. A House GOP bill would remove air traffic control from the FAA and make it a non-profit.
Passing a budget. Not done. House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black, R-Tenn., does not appear to have enough GOP votes to pass a budget yet. This is a bigger problem for the GOP then simple fiscal responsibility. See below.
Tax reform. Not done, and a bumpy road ahead. Republicans hope to use budget reconciliation — which requires just 50 Senate votes — to pass tax reform. But they do not have a budget yet. That is a problem. Otherwise, Republicans appear to be making progress on crafting a tax reform bill. But so far they haven’t figured out the mechanism for voting on it.
Lisa Desjardins is a correspondent for PBS NewsHour, where she covers news from the U.S. Capitol while also traveling across the country to report on how decisions in Washington affect people where they live and work.
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