September 9, 2013

Congress Returns to Budget Battle

Congress returns today and one of its first orders of business is the 2014 budget and the debt ceiling.

Congress is returning from recess today, and obviously the most pressing issue is Barack Obama’s misadventure in Syria. Once that’s settled (the vote is almost sure to go against the president), Congress will turn to the 2014 budget and the debt ceiling. House Republicans plan to vote this week on another continuing resolution to fund the government after Sept. 30, when the 2013 budget year ends. The GOP proposal delays $20 billion in sequester cuts, largely targeting the Pentagon, until January. The resolution would keep things running until Dec. 15 at current levels of funding while Republicans and Democrats work out their differences.

One of those differences could be funding the Unaffordable Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare. Republicans are considering defunding the unpopular health care law, which is, of course, risky given that Democrats control the Senate, and Obama would never defund his signature “achievement.” Such a move by Republicans would increase the odds of a government shutdown, which House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) doesn’t seem keen to do. It will be interesting to see how the GOP handles this budget and debt ceiling showdown at the same time that the president’s desired action in Syria requires their attention. Two big fights at one time could be problematic.

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