Congress is back on Capitol Hill after a five week recess and a bill to fund the federal government for the first six month of the new year is at the top of the agenda. The new measure would allow for a spending increase of sixth-tenths of one percent and would prevent a government shutdown at the start of October. For the first time after the conventions, Alex Bolton, senior staff writer for The Hill is back to discuss the prospects for this year with WAMU All Things Considered host Pat Brogan.
What does the timeline look like for this stopgap measure?
"Compared to the knock-down, drag-out fights we've seen this Congress between Republicans and Democrats, this is going to be smooth sailing. The House is expected to act on the six-month stopgap on Thursday and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would take it up and pass it in the Senate unless there were some last-minute changes in the House."
Some House Republicans have called for more spending reductions — could this hold up this bill?
"It's likely we're going to see defections by Tea Party conservative Republican freshmen. There could be even a couple dozen conservative freshmen defecting from this bill. They don't like it, because they want the spending levels to match what was set in the House budget crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan earlier this year. Instead, the levels will be at the level agreed to in the Budget Control Act, which Congressional leaders agreed to in the summer of last year as part of the deal to raise the debt limit. Democrats say that was the deal and they're not going to backtrack and lower it to the Ryan levels."
Wendy Rosen, a Democratic candidate in Maryland, has withdrawn her challenge to Republican Congressman Andy Harris. Where does that leave the race two months before election day?
"It leaves Maryland Democrats without a candidate. There was some speculation that perhaps Wayne Gilcrest, the moderate Republican who used to represent that district, could wage a bid as a Democrat. He lost to Harris in a primary, that's how he lost his seat. That's looking unlikely. I spoke to the Marlyand Board of Elections and they said the deadline to remove Rosen's name from the ballot was Aug. 28. That deadline has passed, so the Democrats are stuck with Rosen on the ballot. If they want to run a candidate against Harris, they're going to have to do it in a write-in campaign. But it looks like Democrats have given up on that seat."