Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle will head to the White House when lawmakers return from August recess next week, Fox News confirmed on Wednesday, ahead of what is going to be an incredibly busy month on Capitol Hill.
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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), affectionately known as the “Big Four”, are scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump next Wednesday. On the agenda will be a host of must-pass items for the month of September, including raising the United States’ borrowing authority – or debt ceiling – by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s mandated deadline of Sept. 29 and passing a spending bill before the onset of the new fiscal year in October. Failure to approve legislation in either of these categories could roil the markets; without an increase in the debt ceiling Congress will be unable to continue paying its bills, which include key payments like Social Security benefits, and without a spending bill, the government will shut down.
There has been speculation that, as Republicans begin a public campaign to rally support for their impending tax reform effort – also promised to be completed before year’s end – Democrats may hold one of these items hostage in exchange for leverage where the tax agenda is concerned. A statement from a senior Democratic aide on the upcoming meeting at the White House suggested Democrats are not all that eager to take an active approach to governing.
“The Republicans are in charge, from the White House to [Capitol] Hill so the onus of governing is squarely on them. We expect to hear their proposal for getting done all that we have to get done in September,” the Democratic aide said on Wednesday.
McConnell has insisted there is “zero chance” the debt ceiling won’t be raised by the September deadline, however Republicans are still divided over whether to introduce a clean bill or attach spending reforms that will attack the nation’s deficit over the long term.
Meanwhile, President Trump will begin his rally for simplifying the U.S. tax code and lowering rates on Wednesday, stopping at a factory in Springfield, Missouri to discuss how tax relief could jumpstart the American economy. On Tuesday, he will meet with the key players for the GOP's tax reform proposal.
While September is going to be an extremely busy month for lawmakers, with some questioning whether it is feasible to accomplish each legislative goal by the necessary deadline, others also have hesitations about whether tax reform can be completed before the onset of 2018.