Syria is not the only challenge Congress faces as it returns to Washington from its August recess. Monday was the first of only nine legislative days that both the Senate and House of Representatives will be in session before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. Congress will need to approve a spending plan before then and take action on the debt limit not long after that.
Unfortunately, little progress has been made towards passing a budget this year. The budget resolutions adopted by Senate Democrats and House Republicans are $91 billion apart in overall spending levels, and no appropriations bills have been signed into law.
House Republicans have only been able to muster support for their deep proposed spending reductions in five of twelve appropriation bills, while the only appropriations bill brought to the Senate floor was defeated by a filibuster.
With so little time left on the legislative calendar, Congress is extremely unlikely to finish its appropriations bills on time. That would leave lawmakers with an important choice: adopt a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government or allow it to shut down.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the government could default within weeks unless Congress raises the debt ceiling. The Treasury warns that it will run out of "...