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As the seasons change in D.C., from summer to fall, the temperatures drop (eventually) and the urgency picks up. The August recess is but a memory, and members of Congress now return to Washington with a lot of unfinished business.
Here are six important items Congress must tackle this fall. And with only 10 legislative days on the September calendar, there’s no time to stand around.
1. Avoiding a Government Shutdown
Earlier in the year, Congress made good progress by passing a budget resolution and needs to complete work on passing a budget for FY 2016. But approving spending bills has gotten bogged down in the sludge of partisan squabbling.
A continuing resolution will have to be passed and signed by President Barack Obama by Sept. 30 to keep the government running, at least through the end of 2015. A government shutdown would do nothing good for our weak economic recovery and should be avoided.
2. Raising the Debt Ceiling
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government will run out of borrowing authority in December.
To avoid the United States from defaulting on its debt and instigating an unnecessary global financial crisis, Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling.
3. Export-Import Bank
It's been more than two months since the Export-Import Bank's (Ex-Im) charter expired, keeping it from making any new loans or extending insurance.
Congress should reauthorize a long-term Ex-Im extension to help keep U.S. companies competitive globally.
Even though major computer breaches are all too common, cybersecurity legislation has been stuck in Congress.
The House passed a cybersecurity bill earlier this year, but similar legislation, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), hasn't gotten out of the Senate. This bill needs to be passed to encourage companies to voluntarily share data and better defend against the future computer attacks we all know will come.
5. Extending Tax Provisions
Pro-growth tax provisions like the R&D tax credit have expired or will expire at the end of the year unless Congress extends them. Not doing so will limit businesses' ability to grow, expand and create jobs.
6. Highway Bill
Congress has to find a long-term funding solution to building and maintaining roads, bridges, and other necessary transportation projects in need of repair.