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Expect Nothing From Congress For at Least The Next Seven Months

Tue, 03/27/2018

Congress is poised to be one of the least productive in American history

Republican leaders in the House and Senate decided weeks ago that, even though it’s required to do so by law, Congress will not adopt a budget this year for the federal government. That means that, now that the big ($1.3 trillion; 2,200 pages) 2018 spending bill was enacted last week, Congress isn’t likely to do much of anything on any issue until after the election this November.
 
That inactivity may seem strange given that there’s still about seven months until Election Day and that a number of major hot button issues – everything from immigration to infrastructure to assault weapons to healthcare – are still very much part of the political landscape in the U.S.
 
But consider the following:

  1. As of April 1, the House and Senate are both only scheduled to be in session for about 45 days.
  2. The GOP only has a razor-thin one-vote majority in the Senate and those 51 Republican senators are not unified on most issues.
  3. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is far more conservative than their Republican Senate colleagues making it very difficult to get an agreement through Congress on anything.
  4. Sensing a possible Democratic takeover of Congress this November, Senate Democrats don’t seem willing to provide their Republican counterparts with any easy legislative victories before the election and so are demanding major concessions from the GOP for their support.
  5. The Republican House and Senate leadership prefers that their members be home campaigning for reelection rather than in Washington debating highly divisive legislation.

Add to this President Trump’s lack of experience in dealing with Congress and it’s easy to see why this Congress is poised to be one of the least productive in American history.

That is…it will be unproductive until the lame duck session of Congress that will take place after the election that is as certain as anything in Washington can be these days.
 
Unless there is a crisis in the meantime that forces the White House and Congress to act, almost all significant legislative action will take place after the election but before January 1. This especially will be the case if there’s a Democratic takeover of the House and/or Senate and the outgoing Republican majority tries to press its numerical advantage for the last time before the Democrats gain control.
 
In the meantime, Congress will do remarkably little.

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