Expiring Provisions and Deadlines Loom

With increasingly fewer legislative days, expiring provisions and other deadlines continue to stack up. Congress will have to decide which to extend, and which to let slip into the new year. While some reauthorizations necessitate immediate action, such as those with statutory requirements, others face self-imposed timelines with which President Trump and Congress will have to contend. Even the expiring provisions that are statutorily bound may be extended rather than reauthorized, and some may be addressed retroactively.

Last week, Congress passed a measure that provided Hurricane Harvey relief, raised the debt limit, and extended until December 8 authorization for the National Flood Insurance Program and a FY18 Continuing Resolution (CR). Interestingly, two high profile programs were not included in that package: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reauthorizations. Either one of these could become the vehicle for several other extenders that face the same September 30 deadline. Though we do not anticipate that either will move individually, one or both could ride on a package that includes additional hurricane relief for the Southeast and any number of other measures. An even larger package is expected around the December 8 appropriations deadline, which could also include language to address Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Obamacare cost-sharing payments.

Since there are so many expiring provisions and other paramount issues facing looming deadlines of one kind or another, we have created a running list to keep track of the crowded legislative calendar:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Authorization: September 30 Statutory

  • Likely will be extended, perhaps for six months, as favored by congressional Democrats and Senate Commerce Chair John Thune (R-SD)

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): September 30 Statutory

  • Funding scheduled to expire September 30, but only a few states (AZ, NC) are projected to run out of money by December
  • In part because of hurricane expenditures in TX and FL, additional state health officials are now concerned about their funding and some are prepared to respond to budget shortfalls with enrollment freezes as soon as November
  • Senate Finance Committee leaders agreed September 12 to a five-year extension
  • Expect the program to be reauthorized, as CHIP has come to be viewed as must-pass legislation that can also serve as a vehicle for other health care extenders and miscellaneous health care provisions

Medicare/Other Health Extenders: September 30 – January 1 (numerous dates) Statutory

  • Congress typically addresses these extenders before they lapse
  • Previously rode on perennial “doc fix” legislation
  • Expect these extenders to be reauthorized

Obamacare Repeal and Replace via Reconciliation: September 30 Parliamentarian ruling

  • Initially, the Trump Administration planned to repeal and replace Obamacare on “Day One,” but congressional Republicans have failed to pass legislation to date, though the White House is pressuring Congress to try again
  • Senate Parliamentarian ruled recently that the reconciliation order included in the FY17 budget resolution would expire with the end of FY17
  • It is highly unlikely that the current Cassidy-Graham measure has the votes to pass, and it may not even make it to the floor

FY18 Budget Resolution: Early October Target

  • Congressional Republicans plan to use the budget resolution to include a reconciliation order for tax reform
  • A fiscal blueprint with policy details may incite intra-party conflicts over spending priorities
  • Likely to happen

FY18 Appropriations: December 8 Statutory

  • Congress could pass an appropriations package to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, or they could opt for another continuing resolution (CR)
  • An omnibus appropriations bill would likely become a vehicle for other measures

National Flood Insurance Program Authorization: December 8 Statutory

  • There are proposals from both House Financial Services and Senate Banking. Neither the House nor the Senate has cleared any legislation yet
  • Expect another extension

Debt Limit: Suspended until at least December 8 Statutory

  • With Treasury’s use of extraordinary measures, congressional action may not be required to avert default until March 2018 
  • Congress will almost certainly have to take another vote to raise the debt limit before the 2018 elections, unless, as the president suggested, the requirement to vote on raising the debt limit is eliminated

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): December 31 Target

  • In recent years, a final version has been passed by Congress in late November or early December
  • Despite Armed Services Committee Chairman McCain’s health, he is currently managing the bill on the Senate floor, and, in deference to Sen. McCain, conferees may try to negotiate the final bill quickly
  • Expect reauthorization, as the NDAA has been signed into law for the past 55 consecutive years

Tax Reform: December 31 Target

  • Initially, the Trump Administration planned to finalize tax reform before the August recess, but congressional Republicans are now aiming for the end of the year
  • This is clearly the priority of congressional Republicans. Many believe that tax reform and cuts are suited to the party, and they need something to get points on the board
  • Will try to include reconciliation order in FY18 budget resolution to allow tax reform to proceed in the Senate with 51 votes
  • May move away from tax reform to a simple tax cut

Section 702 of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Act: December 31 Statutory

  • Unclear if congressional action will result in a straight extension of surveillance authorities, either temporary or permanent, or if reforms will be needed to garner enough votes for reauthorization
  • Likely to result in debate over national security vs. privacy/civil liberties

DACA: March 2018 Target

  • President Trump gave Congress six months from September to pass legislation to determine the future of 800,000 DREAMers covered under DACA
  • While the White House has said that President Trump will not insist that DACA legislation be tied to funding for a border wall, it is possible that such legislation will be paired with other border security or interior enforcement measures traditionally supported by Republicans
  • The DREAM Act, and/or potentially other immigration proposals, could be candidates for inclusion in a December package

Infrastructure Package: 2018 Target

  • Initially, the Trump Administration aimed for the end of the year
  • Though Transportation Secretary Chao remains committed to releasing an infrastructure plan in the fall, we anticipate that the debate will slip into next year