Though nothing in Washington is ever certain, the legislative calendar, at least in terms of days in session, is set for the next month and into the summer's congressional recess. Members of Congress will take the month of August off to head back to their districts to attend parades, visit factories, hold town halls and calm the nerves of anxious voters. July, however, remains a full month for congressional action.
The recent news of the National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeting conservative groups, the continued push to understand the Benghazi, Libya, attacks, the media subpoenas and what exactly will be the fate of Attorney General Eric Holder will dominate the congressional calendar for the rest of the summer, but that does not mean that other legislation is off the table.
The real fights, however--especially over the fiscal situation--will takeplace in the fall. Enjoy yoursummer vacations while you can--fall is going not going to be a picnic.
DEBT CEILING FIGHT LOOMS
In a stark contrast from two years ago when the debt ceiling was front-page news almost every day, the summer of 2013 looks to be mostly free of a debt ceiling fight. This does not mean the fight has gone away--simply postponed. It will arrive in full force when Congress reconvenes on Sept. 9.
The seeds of the debt ceiling fight are being sewn as you read this article. Both Republicans and Democrats have fired warning shots over the debt ceiling, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew telling congressional leaders in a May letter that "We will not negotiate over the debt limit." Democrats felt pushed around two years ago and made it clear that 2013 will be different.
As a way to call President Barack Obama's bluff and force the hands of the Democrats, House Republicans are planning to tie the debt ceiling and the need to negotiate to major policy priorities. This is said to include spending cuts, a possible repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and an overhaul of America's tax code.
Republicans want to force votes on these items as a way to go on record ahead of the midterm elections, as well as making them conditions to raise the debt ceiling.
While both sides are promising not to blink, it is understood by both Republicans and Democrats that the longer the debt ceiling fight plays out, the more dangerous it becomes for sitting members. The closer these votes get to 2014 means that members of Congress...