The U.S. Congress is hurtling toward some major tax, budget and other policy deadlines. Some are hard and some are flexible, with the end of 2017 approaching. Here is the Capitol Hill outlook for what promises to be a turbulent November-December.
WEEK OF NOV. 20: Except for the Nov. 23 Thanksgiving holiday, Senate Republican staffers spend the week working on a tax bill. The House of Representatives has approved its bill, part of a tax overhaul push backed by President Donald Trump. Senate staffers must make their bill comply with procedural rules allowing it to be approved by a simple majority of 51 votes. Otherwise it would need 60 votes, which would require the support of eight Senate Democrats, an unlikely outcome.
TUESDAY, NOV. 28: Senate reconvenes after a week-long holiday break. Republicans could unveil their tax bill.
THURSDAY, NOV. 30: Possible, although far from certain, final Senate vote on tax bill.
FRIDAY, DEC. 8: Expiration date for funding needed to keep the U.S. government open. Congress has three choices: approve a massive bill for more than $1 trillion to keep the government operating through Sept. 30, 2018; pass a shorter extension of current funding to buy more time; or fail to pass anything and risk a partial government shutdown, stalling the tax effort. U.S. Treasury hits its limit on borrowing, but takes steps to postpone any need for action by Congress, eliminating any need for a debt limit increase in an end-of-year catch-all bill.
TUESDAY, DEC. 12: Special U.S. Senate election in Alabama pits Republican Roy Moore, a conservative firebrand accused of sexual misconduct involving teen-age girls, against Democrat Doug Jones. The election could mean trouble for the tax overhaul effort. Moore, a critic of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, could cause turmoil if elected. A win by Jones would shrink even more Republicans’ narrow margin of Senate control, which now stands at 52-48.
THURSDAY, DEC. 14: House’s last scheduled session of 2017.
FRIDAY, DEC. 15: Senate’s last scheduled session of 2017.
THURSDAY, DEC. 21: Seen by some as a possible date for swearing in a new Alabama senator, which would create new uncertainty for the Republican tax overhaul drive. But Alabama officials say the election results will not be certified until Dec. 26 at the earliest. With the Senate scheduled to be out that week, no new senator could be sworn in until January.
FRIDAY, DEC. 22: The last weekday before Christmas, and a potential deadline for sending tax legislation to Trump.
DISASTER AID: On Nov. 17, the White House asked Congress to approve $45 billion in more aid for disaster-hit Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Texas, Florida and other states. If approved, as expected, aid would total nearly $96 billion. Additional requests are expected.
DREAMERS: Trump has threatened to end an Obama-era program that helped “Dreamers,” people brought illegally into the United States when they were children. Trump gave Congress until early March to come up with a replacement program, but Democrats and some Republicans want to do this in December.
CHIP: The Children’s Health Insurance Program, which helps millions of lower-income pregnant women and children, is running out of money. Congress has struggled to approve a five-year renewal for the program that normally enjoys bipartisan support.