U.S. Capitol

As Congress leaves town for five weeks, there’s no shortage of unsolved challenges. | AP Photo


The government shuts down Sept. 30. The farm bill isn’t done. The appropriations process is in shambles. Immigration reform is stagnant.

And Congress is heading for the exits.

The tensions on Capitol Hill are high, as legislative achievements are low.

The anger, frustration and disappointment was exposed after the House Republican leadership pulled a transportation spending bill from the floor this week because funding levels were too high for some, too low for others. Instead of recalibrating, House Republicans moved onto a series of bills aimed at stopping what they consider government abuse — legislation that dovetails with their August messaging.

Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), the chair of the subcommittee that wrote the bill, stood up at a Wednesday afternoon meeting and yelled at attendees — including his best friend, Speaker John Boehner — “this is bullshit,” referring to leadership pulling his bill without warning.

Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), so frustrated by the stymied pace of spending bills, said he won’t pen a year-long continuing resolution, and his committee will not vote for it. The House has passed just four of 12 appropriations bills.

As Congress leaves town for a five-week recess, it faces no shortage of unsolved challenges. There is no clear strategy for funding the government beyond Sept. 30 and lifting the debt ceiling, the two fiscal fights looming in the fall.

Another big battle is how the sequester and its automatic budget cuts play out in 2014. House Republicans want to replace steep cuts with entitlement changes but continue to take a hard line on non-defense spending. Democrats and some Senate Republicans oppose this tack and would be willing to consider new revenue.

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