Can Congress Reach a Compromise in September?

Date: August 16, 2017

Once Congress returns from summer recess in early September, legislators need to hit the ground running in order to pass a budget, tackle the government spending measure, raise the federal borrowing limit, and stabilize the health insurance markets. Oh, and that's not to mention a key NFIB priority: tax reform. Otherwise, lawmakers are at risk of a government shutdown on October 1.

September is poised to be Congress’ busiest month with looming deadlines and a growing to-do list, including passing a budget, enacting a government funding measure, raising the debt ceiling, and potentially stabilizing the volatile individual health insurance markets. With summer recess coming to an end on September 5, legislators have limited time to reach compromise on a government spending plan. Without one, lawmakers risk a government shutdown on October 1.

Also on the horizon, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced September 29 as the target date to raise the federal borrowing limit. According to The Hill, it’s likely that the government spending bill and the debt limit measure could be packaged together because of their close deadlines. But will Congress be able to reach a consensus and avoid a shutdown?


The Senate needs minority party votes to avoid a filibuster, so any proposed legislation requires bipartisan support. Because of the urgency to pass these measures, many lawmakers are using this position to leverage provisions to stabilize the Affordable Care Act insurance markets. The Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group, has already announced an outline of reforms that would steady the ACA insurance markets. But many within Congress are hesitant of backing a plan that would provide fixes to a failing healthcare system.

Uncertain of whether subsidies for low-income individuals will be cut, the White House extended the deadline for insurers to file price increases for 2018, according to The New York Times. Health insurers have three extra weeks to calculate next year’s rates, which are now due by Congress’ return on September 5.

With the spending bill and the debt limit stalling reform, making necessary changes to the healthcare and tax systems in September seems out of reach, unless a compromise is reached. Small business owners were disappointed by the gridlock in Congress over healthcare reform before the August recess. Many are hoping that Congress will re-focus and push a tax package that benefits small business, but that cannot be done unless lawmakers pass a budget resolution and prevent a government shutdown.



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