The first six months of unified government under a new President is when Congress enacts the most, and most significant, legislation. Senators joined Representatives on summer recess Thursday, having failed in their first six months to produce any major legislative achievement. When Congress returns to business on September 5, they will face a long list of must-pass items. Failure on some could prove disastrous.
Unless Congress increases the debt limit by early October, the government will default on Treasury bonds, the world's reserve currency, causing global market turmoil and increasing interest rates. Almost on the same day, Congress needs to pass a temporary spending bill to prevent a government shutdown.
Spending bills and the debt limit became vehicles for partisan attacks in the 1990s. Today, many Republicans in Congress won't vote for any spending or debt limit bill, making the votes of Democrats essential to passage, reinstating their prior bipartisan status.
Before either bill can pass, House Freedom Caucus members, perhaps with President Trump's support, will force a partisan fight over spending cuts and social policy. With only 12 working days until the deadline for both bills, the partisan wrangle before bipartisan legislating will create a pointless Perils of Pauline drama.
The Senate approved one must pass bill last week to renew the Food and Drug Administration and confirmed 69 presidential nominees.
Before leaving town, neither the House nor Senate took action to adopt a budget, now 114 days overdue. The budget is necessary for Republicans to act on a partisan tax bill, using the same parliamentary tactics that were supposed to facilitate repeal and replacement of Obamacare.
Some Senators engaged in bipartisan talk about health care last week, perhaps tying some Obamacare reforms to a must-pass childrens health renewal due in September.
The economy added 209,000 jobs in July with unemployment steady at 4.3 percent.
Like Congress, your Updates are taking an August Recess and will return in September.