Five Facts Congress´ To-Do List

Five Facts Congress´ To-Do List

Congress’ summer recess is over and elected officials have returned to Washington. There are a number of pressing issues lawmakers will have to address over the roughly 40 days both chambers are in session, including budget deadlines, trade deals, gun safety, election security, and national defense.

Here are five items on Congress’ to-do list before the end of 2019:

1. Congress has a number of budget and spending deadlines that must be met, including reauthorizing TANF, the National Flood Insurance Program, and the Export-Import Bank. These three issues all have a deadline of September 30. In addition, appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year are due October 1. If this is not addressed, lawmakers risk starting a government shutdown.

2. A group of House Democrats is in talks with the White House on a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a treaty between Mexico, the United States, and Canada that is the basis of trade between the three countries. The potential replacement has been named U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). While the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have agreed to implement the USMCA, Congress has not yet approved the deal. In order to approve “NAFTA 2.0,” many Democrats have called for rescinding the unilateral tariffs President Trump placed on Mexican exports, no longer threatening to withdraw from NAFTA, and reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, among other requests.

3. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he will initiate gun safety legislation only if President Trump signals he will sign it into law. Sen. McConnell’s comments on gun safety came in response to increased calls for reform following a series of mass shootings this summer. In February, the House passed legislation that would strengthen background check requirements.

4. States have called on Congress to pass legislation to shore up election security ahead of the 2020 elections and help prevent cyberattacks. Over the summer, leaders from Connecticut and Louisiana asked Congress to consider additional federal funding. Last year, Congress appropriated $380 million for election security to the Election Assistance Commission.

5. Congress is also responsible for finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act for the upcoming fiscal year. While both the House and the Senate have passed their versions of this year’s bill, they still must be reconciled into a final version. This must happen before October 1, the start of Fiscal Year 2020.