It was a little more than a year ago, in October 2013, that a showdown between the President and Congress led to a government shutdown, after missing the deadline to pass a new bill to fund the government.
Now, even though Congress is in a lame-duck session, there is still work to do, including another government funding bill.
“The single most important, must-pass bill for the lame-duck Congress to finish is a spending bill for the federal government,” says Sarah Binder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
That bill could either be a continuing resolution that funds government for a while longer—the current C.R., as it's known, expires at the end of the day on December 11—or it could fund the government through September 2015.
Binder thinks it will be the latter.
“My sense is that Republican leaders in particular, and I think Democratic leaders, really want to put the omnibus bill—wrapping up all these spending bills—they really want to put it to rest in December, so that they can start from a clean slate come January,” says Binder.
But, James A. Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, isn’t so sure. He says a shorter-term funding bill is more likely.
“They have very little time, so I suspect that they’ll just move it into the next year,” says Thurber. “And within that bill there will be discussion of whether we should support the war effort against ISIS.”
In addition to the government funding bill, Thurber and Binder agree Congress will have to address defense spending issues before the end of the year. The House has passed a bill to fund the defense department in 2015, but the Senate hasn’t yet, and is likely to work toward that goal.
With only a few weeks left, lawmakers will also face the end-of-year expiration of 128 tax incentives, such as the mortgage interest tax deduction and the R&D tax credit for business.