As White House Declares Victory, Congress Is Bracing For A Legislative “Groundhog’s Day”

Friday, December 22, 2017
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Dec 22, 2017

After a difficult first half, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan managed to score two major legislative victories this week just before the clock ran out on what has been one of the most contentious Congresses in recent memory.

By marshalling a fractious Republican caucus, the leadership averted a federal government shutdown on the day before Christmas Eve, and also passed the White House’s historic tax reform plan. With America’s lawmakers headed home for the holidays, Trump affixed his signature to the bill Friday morning.

But while Trump delivered on his promise to pass tax reform by year’s end, in the end, Republicans were forced to put off other pressing priorities – like passing an $81 billion disaster aid bill – until January.

Though the House managed to pass a disaster relief package, the Senate was forced to put it off because of procedural hurdles and opposition from Democrats. The battle to amend and pass the bill will probably dominate the political news cycle early next year, according to Bloomberg.

But it’s hardly the only legislative priority demanding immediate attention: Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling. And the continuing resolution passed late last night is set to expire on Jan. 19, meaning another funding bill must be adopted before then.

Back in October, President Trump cancelled protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children. Democrats insist that those protections, which were first put in place by Trump’s predecessor, must now be enshrined in law. Trump has offered tepid support for America’s “Dreamers”, but it’s unclear at this point if Republicans will support a deal to keep the DACA protections in exchange for a suite of border-protection measures.

But important questions about military and domestic spending caps, the future of Obamacare and the extension of a controversial warrantless surveillance program – not to mention a long-term fix for CHIP, the children’s health-insurance program, will need to be decided before lawmakers turn their attention to the 2018 midterms.

As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, these competing priorities could create headaches for Trump early next year as he pushes for a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan – his administration’s next big legislative priority.

Republicans will also need to devise a long-term plan for the popular children’s health insurance program. The administration is also hoping to pass its welfare reform plan next year.

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