On Friday, Congress begins its traditional August recess. Members will not return to Washington until after Labor Day, on September 9th. On the top of the agenda when they are back at work is reaching a deal on government spending before the government shuts down on October 1st. Congress, however, will only be in session for nine days before the government’s spending authority expires. That isn’t a lot of time.
The fight over extending government spending is surroundrd by debates over the debt ceiling and ObamaCare. On October 1st, the federal and state health insurance exchanges are scheduled to be open, theoretically allowing people to compare and purchase health insurance. If an individual does not have health insurance on January 1, 2014, they will face a penalty when they file their taxes.
Sometime in October, also, the US Treasury will hit its borrowing limit, making it unable to issue new debt. The exact date isn’t clear, as the Treasury Department has some measures it can take to delay hitting the limit. The GOP insists on at least an equal amount of spending cuts for new borrowing authority. Democrats are adamant the two shouldn’t be linked.
It is difficult to imagine the two sides reaching a broad spending deal in just nine session days. Procedural hurdles in the Senate could easily delay action, even if a deal were reached early in the month.
The most likely outcome is another short-term extension on spending through October and possibly November. The government has been funded by such short-term extensions for the past four years. Whether or not ObamaCare funding is included in an extension will be decided at townhalls in August and nine days in September.