Congress Returns With a Lot to Do

Congress returned to action on Monday after a five-week recess, with a lot of important business to address in the short time it has allocated before resuming re-election campaigning. Some of the most critical potential issues deal with national security, including approving a defense authorization bill to set policies for the next fiscal year; deciding whether to authorize or block the use of military force against ISIS extremists in Iraq and maybe Syria; possibly providing funds to arm moderate opposition fighters in Syria; and enacting some funding measure to allow the entire federal government to function after Oct. 1. Bipartisan groups of House and Senate members on both sides of the issue are calling for a vote on the President’s ability to use military force against ISIS. But the consensus of congressional observers is that the leaders of both parties are eager to avoid any action that could tilt the Nov. 4 congressional elections either way. The only major action Congress is expected to take is passing a short-term continuing resolution that would allow federal agencies to continue spending at the same level as this fiscal year, until after the elections.