Congress Adjourns for the Election but Still Has Lots of Work to Do

Members of the 114th Congress in 2015
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

After approving a continuing resolution that funds the federal government through Dec. 9, the 114th Congress adjourned Thursday for the election, leaving a lot of unresolved issues on the table.

The must-pass spending bill—which prevented a government shutdown, provides funds to address the Zika crisis, and gives money to flood victims in Louisiana and other states—also sends much-needed aid to the city of Flint, Mich., where a lead-contaminated water system has been an issue for the last year.


President Barack Obama signed the bill into law today, the Washington Post notes, and its passage avoids a shutdown like the one in 2013, which brought government operations to a halt for 16 days.

Congress will return after the election to what is known as a lame duck session—or the waiting period before the new Congress is sworn in.

The outcome of the election will determine how much is able to get done for the remainder of 2016. As the Post notes, even if Republicans manage to maintain control over the House, Democrats would still exercise significant power in the Senate. If Democrats win the White House or the Senate, we are looking at another era of divided government, something that has prevented Congress from getting the job done this session.

There is a current Supreme Court vacancy to fill, and there will be an annual budgeting process to complete, as well as a necessary debt-limit increase to take care of. The water-projects bill that includes money for Flint will need to be completed, and in order for that to happen, both sides of Congress will need to come together in committee to work out the differences between the House version of the bill and the Senate version. After all is said and done, it is likely that Flint will not see any money before December.


House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin told the Post, “My hope is that after the election, they’ll [Democrats] drop their political shenanigans and we’ll get on at doing the serious business of actually appropriating.”

It will take both sides to do that.

Read more at the Washington Post.

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