Congress returned from recess knowing that a full legislative agenda awaited. Nature had other plans. Back-to-back storms have taken precedence as Congress delivered disaster relief for Harvey and braces for fall-out from Irma; week two of this post-recess session sees a different landscape than when members first returned. A deal between the White House and congressional Democrats has delayed, for three months, the need to finalize decisions on discretionary spending and the debt ceiling, while providing additional short-term disaster aid in Harvey’s wake.
With debt ceiling fears temporarily eased, as well as the fears of a government shutdown, the one remaining concern will be the prospect of another disaster aid supplemental. Congress provided $15 billion in aid to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) last week to help rebuild Texas and Louisiana.