Deals to be Had – We survived Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. While the door buster bargains may be gone, there are still deals for the taking in Washington. Namely, lawmakers have striking deals on a budget and farm bill on their wish lists.
Giving Thanks...and Little Else – As we prepare to spend time with family and celebrate Thanksgiving, Congress gave itself a head start on the holiday rush and left town. While lawmakers may be giving thanks this week, there is little they can say they have offered. Much work remains on a budget and farm bill and there is some pessimism in Washington that anything more will be accomplished before the end of this year.
Historic Moment – On this day 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address dedicating the new national cemetery at the site of the epic Civil War battle. We observe that historic moment at a time when the “government of the people, by the people, for the people” that Lincoln defended appears at a low ebb. Congressional approval ratings are at record lows and other institutions are also suffering.
Saluting Service – Today we salute those who have served the United States in the military with a federal holiday. While many have a day off, lawmakers are taking an extended break from Washington ahead of some bruising budget battles. The House returns to work tomorrow from over a week of recess as the Senate enjoys its own respite this week. But policymakers can’t get away from dealing with unresolved fiscal issues. Several deadlines loom and the U.S.
Sugar Crash – Another Halloween has come and gone. Many kids (and adults) have been quickly going through their sugar-filled loot. Eventually, the candy always runs out and everyone is left with a severe letdown and an empty bag. The thrill of trick-or-treating and the subsequent sugar rush are gone. It feels that way in Washington now. There are no more treats left, though there is still potential for tricks. The budget conference committee has begun deliberations on the right foot, but lots of obstacles remain.
Conference Calls – While many of us prepare for a spooky adventure Thursday night, the day before will mark the beginning of another eerie undertaking. Conference committees for both the budget and farm bill begin formal deliberations on Wednesday. While Americans will go door-to-door seeking treats and watch out for tricks, lawmakers will have to negotiate a lengthier and more complex journey with lots of potential for mischief and few treats in store.
Shutdown Smackdown – The shutdown ended and a default was averted last week, but the fallout continues as voters express their displeasure with lawmakers through record-low approval ratings. A new poll says that 64 percent of Americans are pessimistic about Congress’ ability to deal with issues down the road because of the shutdown and debt ceiling fiasco.
Ending the Shutdown and Cranking Up the Debt Limit – It’s been an up-and-down past couple of weeks. The federal government has been shut down since October 1 and the U.S. loses its borrowing authority on October 17 absent a deal to increase the statutory debt ceiling. Several times there have been hopeful signs of an end only to fizzle out. But on Wednesday a deal was announced to end the short-term crises, albeit temporarily.
Not a Rockin’ Eve – Monday is New Year’s Eve...fiscally speaking as October 1 marks the beginning of Fiscal Year 2014. There may be a countdown, and a ball might even be dropped, but there will be no celebrating. Congress looks to go down to the wire in approving a continuing resolution that will fund the federal government in the new fiscal year. Instead of a New Years Rockin’ Eve, it will be more of a Blockin’ Eve as the House and Senate reject each other’s bills.
Relying on the Kicking Game – The return of Congress to Washington has been about as productive as the return of RG3 to the football field for DC. The Redskins are 0-3 and lawmakers have yet to notch any wins themselves since returning from their summer recess. With two fiscal deadlines right around the corner, our leaders appear ready to punt as usual instead of going for the end zone.