Following a month-long August recess, Congress returns to work this week to a full agenda of must-pass items. At the top of the list will be passing a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded and avert a shutdown come October 1. However, unrelated controversies dealing with Planned Parenthood and the Confederate flag will likely make the road to a CR difficult in the coming weeks.
Assuming we get to October 1 without the government shutting down, the next big issue on the agenda is brokering some sort of deal to reverse or at least mitigate the impacts of sequestration, which include the current spending caps that are tamping down funding across federal agencies and programs. As previously reported, work on the fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations bills sputtered out as Congress headed for recess because, among other reasons, Republicans have written the FY 2016 spending bills keeping within the spending caps, while Democrats and the White House vowed to block bills that do not bust through the caps. It does not appear that much has changed during the recess to bridge this divide, leaving many to wonder how any of these issues will get resolved in the remaining months of 2015.