Unemployment, the country’s debt and federal regulation: The issues that have been at the crux of the debate on Capitol Hill this month will continue to take the spotlight. Despite the gridlock that has marked most recent debates in Congress, one bright spot is expected: some action may take place early next week on three long-delayed trade bills.
Our rundown of the five things to keep your eye on when the House and Senate come back next week before heading out for the rest of the month on their September recess:
Trade deals: The three long-stalled free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia finally look as though they will make their way through Congress next week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he expects Senate to begin work Monday on the deals as well as on a renewal of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which has been one of the major sticking points between the parties in considering the trade pacts. The trade deals are one of the few areas of broad bipartisan agreement on which Congress is poised to act this fall; passage of the deals would give both parties the chance to make the case that they are working on creating jobs.
Government funding resolution: The House next week is expected to vote on a resolution to keep the government funded through Nov. 18. Leaders of both parties have indicated that there is agreement on the overall funding level thanks to last month’s debt-ceiling deal, but some conservatives are dissatisfied: On Thursday Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and more than 50 other House members sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) calling for deeper cuts. Neither party’s leadership appears to have the appetite for such a fight, but if there is a spending showdown to be had this month — now that the debate over the FAA and highway bill has been resolved — this will be it.
Regulations: The House continues to examine the impact of federal regulations on jobs creation. Here’s a list of hearings coming up next week on the issue.
Supercommittee looks at tax reform: The debt supercommittee holds its third public hearing next week. The topic: “Revenue Options and Reforming the Tax Code.” This has been one of the main philosophical differences between the parties on the debt — whether (and how) to include new revenue as part of a deal to reduce the debt by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has already said the deal must include no tax increases; how will members on the supercommittee approach the issue?
Palestinian statehood bid: Nearly 60 Democrats this week sent a letter to European leaders urging them to oppose a Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations. With the Palestinians expected to submit their request for U.N. membership late next week, expect to see the debate in Congress ramp up — particularly on the issue of Palestinian aid.