A must-pass Fall for Congress

To say Congress has a full plate as it returned to work this week doesn’t do the plate justice.

The August recess was, at best, tempestuous, as divisions between President Donald Trump, his party and, in particular, his party’s leaders were laid bare in his Twitter feed.

Hurricane Harvey’s historic devastation, and cost to clean up and rebuild, is just now coming into focus. And as members of Congress were packing their bags to return to Washington, the president gave them six months to address another highly emotional issue: his planned phase-out of DACA, which protects immigrants who were brought into the United States as children.

And while the GOP’s Affordable Care Act repeal-and-replace efforts were stymied in June, the Senate HELP Committee picks up the ball and will begin hearings on stabilizing the Obamacare markets—while the president threatens to withhold market stabilization payments.

On the foreign policy front, North Korea’s nuclear missile program has prompted a powerful response from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who in blunt language warned Kim Jong-un of total annihilation. Meanwhile, Venezuela teeters on the brink; ISIS, though facing setbacks, continues to fight; and, breaking with his campaign rhetoric, the president has decided to send more troops into Afghanistan.

Congress faces a list of must-pass bills. Here, Dentons’ Public Policy and Regulation Practice dives deep into the marquee issues awaiting the attention of Congress and the administration:

As Congress returns: Harvey supplemental funding, flood insurance reauth

The results of Hurricane Harvey’s historic landfall will certainly eclipse the combined economic and insurance losses associated with Hurricane Katrina, making it the costliest natural disaster in US history. Reports indicate that, in the short term, the House leadership is considering a down payment to ensure immediate needs are met. These types of “supplementals” often draw conservative ire because they are usually not offset by spending cuts elsewhere, as was the case with Hurricane Sandy, which battered the East Coast in 2012.

US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX5) has drafted a package of bills that reauthorizes the flood insurance program for five years. The package downsizes the program’s foot print, raises what policyholders pay and makes it easier for private companies to compete. GOP members from flood-prone districts have criticized this approach. To date the program is $24.6 billion in debt.

This seems to indicate a short-term extension past the September 30, 2017, expiration date.