House and Senate Republicans are consumed with passing health insurance and tax reform bills, but have yet to tackle a long list of other critical measures that Congress must complete by the end of the year.
Among the ignored but must-pass items is the reauthorization of a key surveillance tool used by intelligence agencies to prevent terrorist attacks and a bill reauthorizing federal healthcare benefits for low-income children. The surveillance measure, which expires at the end of the year, faces potential opposition and delay from Republicans who are angry about intelligence leaks that have hurt the Republican White House, which could complicate passage.
Authorization for the children's health program expires on Sept. 30, a mere 12 legislative days after the House is set to return from its planned August recess. At the same time, Congress will be grappling with a deadline for passing a massive government spending bill for fiscal 2018 and possibly a bill to raise the debt ceiling.
The sheer number of issues outstanding and the various hurdles to passing them have some Republicans warning that they need to work during the August recess to get all the work done.
"The idea that we are going to leave here and go home for five weeks makes absolutely no sense," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said. "We should be here. We should get the work done, and we should produce the results the American people elected us to produce."