WASHINGTON – Members of Congress are back home for the next two weeks after a tumultuous start to the session that saw the GOP-controlled House unable to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and Republicans in the Senate having to rewrite the rules in order to get a Supreme Court Justice in place.
But as representatives return to their home districts to meet with constituents and also recharge, there’s a new, urgent challenge waiting for them when they return. Government funding expires on April 28, which will give Congress members exactly five days upon their return to unveil, debate and pass an enormous spending bill or extender, or trigger a government shutdown.
Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23), who represents Chautauqua County, told WRFA Monday that despite the short time line, he’s confident lawmakers will be able to act on a spending bill before the deadline, partly because there’s already been some discussion on how to proceed.
“All indications are that we will have an agreement in place when we return, but we’ve been working since that time as a top priority with other members to make sure that the government funding bill gets signed into law,” Reed said. “So I’m optimistic, but given the nature of what we’ve been dealing with here in the last few weeks, I’m going to make sure that we dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s and do my part to try and get that legislation done immediately, when we return to Washington.”
In addition to the government spending bill, Republican lawmakers will also likely want to focus their attention on reworking their proposed American Health Care Act, as well as continue to work on reforming tax law for both individuals and businesses. And with international conflict in Syria becoming a top focus, some are wondering if it’s a good idea for lawmaker to recess for two full weeks. However, Congressman Reed said that the break will likely be a good opportunity for lawmakers to reengage with constituents.
“I think having spent six weeks straight in Washington, I think it’s good for member to go back. I go back every weekend, travel back and forth, we do the town halls, we’re always trying to listen to the district every week, but a lot of members don’t do that,” Reed said, adding, “So I think it’s wise for members to go back, listen, reach out their constituents, and really try to focus on the priorities that they need to have for the district, so when they return to Washington we come at it from a renewed commitment to doing what needs to be done for the American people.”
Beyond keeping government funded and running later this month, reworking healthcare, and focusing on tax reform, Republicans and President Trump are eyeing other ambitious legislative goals for 2017 including infrastructure spending and legislation to raise the nation’s debt limit.
The group must also focus on mending relations not only with Democrats who are upset over the handling of Justice Neil Gorsuch’s vote in the U.S. Senate, but also with Conservatives in the House who are skeptical of any healthcare reform plan that would be even remotely similar to the Affordable Care Act.
Congress will return to Session on Monday, April 24.