Congress Only to Consider Critical Bills between Now and January
November 11, 2014
With a little more than three weeks to accomplish anything legislatively during the lame duck session, which begins Wednesday, Congress is likely to work on issues it believes must be completed prior to the new year. With the Senate still controlled by the Democrats through 2014, any legislation even slightly controversial is not going to pass in the next month and a half.
To follow are some measures that Hill watchers expect Congress to pass.
- Funding the remainder of the current fiscal year. The federal government is funded through Dec. 11 via a short-term continuing resolution (CR), so when Congress returns this week it must decide how to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2015, which ends next September. The three main choices are:
- Pass an omnibus spending bill that would cover all of fiscal year 2015, increasing funding for some programs, while cutting others;
- Approve a long-term CR that would fund federal programs at 2014 levels for the rest of fiscal year 2015; or
- Agree to another short-term CR to fund the government through, say, March 2015 and then determine long-term funding thereafter.
- Fighting Ebola: This is one area where the American people might see agreement from Congress and the White House. The Obama Administration is seeking more than $6 billion in emergency appropriations to fight Ebola at its source in West Africa and to fund domestic preparedness measures.
- Funding Tax Extenders: Every year or two Congress goes through the ritual of funding tax extenders (preventing temporary tax relief measures from expiring) and this year is no different. It is expected that lawmakers will extend existing tax breaks, among which are provisions important to dentistry, like increasing the Section 179 capital equipment deduction provision to a maximum of $500,000, with a phase-out of $2 million.