In the weeks ahead Congress could take positions on policy matters such as the administration’s proposals to allow six weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees among other American workers, to end a student loan forgiveness program applying to federal employees along with other public service workers, and to privatize air traffic control.
Congress could stake out a position relatively soon on such matters if it adopts a budget resolution as a blueprint for later action.
The administration meanwhile has proposed to lift the moratorium on “Circular A-76” contracting-out studies, boost the buyout maximum at the State Department from $25,000 to $40,000–a change that could be extended to other agencies, as well–and to provide a 1.9 percent raise in January. A budget resolution could take positions on them as well, although more commonly such issues are addressed in the appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year.
Due to disputes over those provisions and the administration’s proposed cuts to retirement benefits, there’s a general expectation that there will be a showdown in September over the budget for the fiscal year that starts in October. Warnings already are being sounded of a potential partial government shutdown if that process hits gridlock.
Also in the mix is the need to raise the federal debt ceiling. Technically the limit already has been breached but the government is using financial maneuvers, including one involving the TSP’s government securities G fund, to free up working cash. Original projections were that those steps would stave off a reckoning until around November but more recent estimates show a need for action possibly several months earlier. The Treasury Department has called for an increase in the ceiling to be enacted before the August recess. Such situations commonly result in budgetary showdowns between the parties.