Donald Trump has said his administration “continues to get things done at a record clip”, despite having no major legislative victory and the uncertainty over multiple items on his policy agenda that need to be figured out by the end of September.
“General John Kelly is doing a great job as Chief of Staff. I could not be happier or more impressed – and this Administration continues to … Get things done at a record clip,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter. “Many big decisions to be made over the coming days and weeks. AMERICA FIRST!”
When they return to Washington next week, legislators will have about 12 working days to raise the debt ceiling and approve a federal budget – two tasks that have been made difficult by the differing priorities of the administration and members of Congress.
On top of that, if the Senate wants to pass a bill to overhaul Obamacare – otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act – with just 51 votes, it must do so by 30 September, according to the Senate parliamentarian.
The Senate’s Republican leaders suffered a colossal defeat in July when they failed to get enough members of their own party to vote for a bill that would have dismantled Barack Obama’s healthcare law.
After the failed vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the upper chamber would move on to other matters, but Mr Trump has continued to call on Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Republicans were using a process known as reconciliation to try to pass their healthcare measure, meaning they only needed 51 votes in support of the legislation in the 100-member Senate instead of the normal 60.
To conform to the rules of reconciliation legislation, the bill must meet certain requirements, including reducing the budget deficit. Most other bills can be filibustered – when debate over a proposed piece of legislation is extended – and would need 60 votes to end the filibuster, or invoke closure.
If Mr McConnell does not pass healthcare legislation by the end of the month, he will need the support of all 52 Senate Republicans as well as eight Democrats for any type of healthcare reform this year.
Meanwhile, government funding is scheduled to run out at the end of September, and Mr Trump has threatened to shut down the government if lawmakers don’t include $1.6bn in funding for his oft-promised border wall.
“Build that wall,” Mr Trump said at an August rally in Phoenix. “Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it. But…