Today, the House and Senate return to Washington after a five week district work period, readying themselves for a busy month of September. With both houses currently expected to be in Session two to three more legislative weeks before they recess to hit the campaign trail, much of the legislative agenda will be driven by upcoming elections and world events.
With escalating threats from the terrorist group ISIL, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has made clear his desire to hear from the Administration on their plans for addressing ISIL as a possible national security threat. This could lead to Republican-led messaging bills in the House of Representatives calling for the President to make his strategy known to the American people.
Of course, it is an election year, and it is clear from the Majority Leader’s September Agenda, that the Republican-led House will also work on a series of bills aimed at ensuring electoral victory in the fall. The plan spells out a number of bills aimed at making the economy, jobs, healthcare, and gasoline prices the focus of the September legislative period. Fortunately for the natural gas industry, this leaves ample opportunity for meaningful energy legislation, including bills aimed at providing states with the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing, to expedite the export of liquefied natural gas to our allies, and to modernize the review process for new natural gas permit applications.
Aside from an anticipated adjournment date of September 23, the Senate forecast remains slightly less defined. While also working to protect vulnerable incumbents, the Democrat-controlled Senate is expected to work on bills increasing the minimum wage, regulate campaign spending, allow for student-loan refinancing, and reverse the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding employee contraceptive coverage. There is also a chance the Senate may move to reauthorize the Export-Import bank, or take up defense authorization, legislation to curb corporate inversions, or update satellite television broadcast rules.
Perhaps the most pressing business in both chambers is that of the continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told House Republicans he plans to pass a simple CR in order to avoid threats of a government shutdown. With the current government funding bill set to expire on October 1, this would shift any major spending decisions until after Election Day. Senate Democrats are rumored to be preparing for a CR as well, which at present appears to be a clean re-authorization at current funding levels.
As with any government funding bill, things are often not as simple as they appear, with the possibility of additional funding being included in a CR. This may include measures to fund the Export-Import Bank as well as funding for the ongoing border crisis. Though there are rumors of a possible government shutdown, that scenario remains unlikely, as legislators in both chambers hope to finish up legislative business and return to their districts for one last campaign push before Election Day.