(WASHINGTON) — Congress ends its five-week summer recess Tuesday as storm-ravaged states clamor for Harvey aid, the Trump administration demands a swift increase in the nation’s borrowing authority, and President Donald Trump’s actions on immigration seem certain to upend the fall agenda.
Lawmakers face a daunting workload and fast-approaching deadlines, including the need to fund the government and increase the United States’ $19.9 trillion debt ceiling by month’s end. A Republican-led Congress with no major legislative achievement in the first seven months of Trump’s presidency also is intent on overhauling the nation’s tax code, hoping for a political win after the failure of repealing and replacing Barack Obama’s health care law.
The immediate focus will be rushing a $7.9 billion disaster relief package to Harvey victims. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin raised the stakes last weekend by calling on Congress to combine the aid with a contentious increase in the nation’s borrowing limit. Conservatives oppose raising the borrowing limit without getting something in exchange, such as deep cuts elsewhere in federal spending.
“The president and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding,” Mnuchin said Sunday. “If Congress appropriates the money, but I don’t have the ability to borrow more money and pay for it, we’re not going to be able to get that money to the state. So, we need to…