Congress Faces Full Plate After Holiday Recess

The U.S. House and Senate are out of session at the moment, but when the two chambers return from the Memorial Day recess, they’ll have a full plate.

July is usually reserved for appropriations – the giant bills that fund all the different agencies of the government. Congress has been writing and marking up all sorts of appropriations bills, and getting them ready for up or down votes come summertime.

It’s the heavy lifting the government must do or it will need to pass a continuing resolution – an agreement to keep the government afloat for a certain period of time.

Appropriations bills are always political. This year, with an election looming in November and August reserved for campaigning, that will likely be the case.

The Senate has shown some signs it wants to move some bills along quickly. It passed a reauthorization for the Food and Drug Administration with 96 yes votes last week, though Senator Lisa Murkowki’s so-called “Frankenfish Amendment” to the bill failed.

The two chambers will also have to take up controversial measures soon. One would prevent student loan interest rates from increasing in July. It’s already failed in the Senate, but it will try and move it again. Congress also must pass a massive reauthorization to pay for the country’s roads, highways and bridges. Each chamber has passed a version and a conference committee is working to meld the two.

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