Congress has just returned to Washington after their seven week summer recess, and they have a few major challenges heading up to the November election.

  • They have until September 30th to avoid a government shutdown, and hopefully fund the battle against Zika, which Globalo reported on previously from Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama.
  • One Zika funding vote has already failed since their return, and there are signs of gridlock on a continuing resolution too, since Republicans can’t decide on whether to attempt a short or long term measure.

The Democrats again voted down a Republican bill which would have given emergency funding for the fight against the Zika virus outbreak. The bill was blocked because it would have prevented funding for Planned Parenthood, and it would have removed the provision banning Confederate flags in veteran’s cemeteries. If Congress can’t get this Zika-specific funding approved, then it will likely be added into a broader budget later.

The largest item on the agenda is avoiding a government shutdown by the time the budget runs out on September 30th. There must be Congressional action on appropriations by that date, or it would be an embarrassment right before the elections.

But what would the continuing resolution entail?

  • Both Republicans and Democrats favor a short term resolution just to get through the election, then they could come back after and finish negotiating with each other. Then, they could create one large bill where all the issues are put on the table and funding is decided all at once after November 8th.
  • A small faction of Republicans would prefer a longer term resolution since deadlines, in their minds, are a detriment to conservative goals being achieved.

The outcome depends on the Republicans. To get something approved, Republicans have to concede to some Democratic demands to get their votes for a short term measure. A longer term measure is likely to be rejected by Democrats and the White House, and would lead to a shut down.