The House and the Senate just began a two-week recess for the July 4 holiday. Looking into the future, there are very few working days left on the calendar leading up to the end of the fiscal year. The House is only in session 12 days in July, then away for August recess, and in session for another 12 days in September. That equates to only 24 voting days in the House and 32 in the Senate before the end of the fiscal year, September 30. All of this suggests that we should lower expectations for what Congress gets done this summer.
Top priority for the House is to use this time to pass appropriations bills, especially if they plan to move any of them with open or modified open rules that allow for amendments on the floor, as that will take time. As we know, the House and Senate are moving on decidedly different tracks on appropriations, with the House at spending limits that are about $120 billion less in total than the bills being developed across the Capitol. Once the House sends its appropriations bills to the Senate, the real fun will begin to figure out how to bridge the divide between the two bodies in time to prevent an end-of-the-year government shutdown.
It appears increasingly likely that the schedule for the House to take up health legislation—such as HR 3561, the PATIENT Act, which was reported out of the Energy and Commerce Committee last month—may slip beyond the July work period as the House focuses on appropriations and the National Defense Authorization Act for now. But, if there’s a lull in the schedule, House leadership could still turn to healthcare on short notice.