The House and Senate return next week to face an immediate demand for billions in disaster relief money for Texas, as well as impending deadlines on government funding and lifting the nation's borrowing limit, and even a bill dealing with self-driving cars.
Republican leaders said last week that Congress will quickly consider a "down payment" on what could become a massive federal bill required to clean up after Hurricane Harvey.
Trump administration officials Friday were mulling a $6 billion request the House and Senate are expected to vote on next week. But reports late Friday suggested that number could increase between now and the final vote given the magnitude of destruction in Houston.
The initial emergency funding for Harvey will likely pass without much opposition, as even conservative groups are refraining from calls for offsets.
The bill won't require cuts or other measures to pay for it, but future spending will likely bring more conservative scrutiny as lawmaker are wary of pork spending in disaster relief legislation used to help states recover from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
"It is imperative the administration and lawmakers avoid a Sandy-style package riddled with non-emergency spending," the conservative Heritage Action warned in a statement. "Any funds that falls outside the strict definition of ‘emergency spending' should, such as the reported inclusion of small business loans, be offset."
Meanwhile, lawmakers are working dual tracks on government spending, which expires at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
The House plans to vote next week on the 2018 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which combines several funding measures. It's the second group of funding bills to be considered by the House, but a larger bipartisan deal will be needed with the Senate.
But even as long-term work on 2018 funding continues, the quick deadline coming up this month will likely require Congress to pass a short-term spending measure, or continuing resolution, which maintains 2017 levels for a few extra weeks or even months. A Republican aide said a short-term funding bill is in the works in case it is needed.
The Trump administration, which is seeking $1.6 billion for a southern border wall in fiscal 2018, said it will not hold up a short-term spending bill that excludes wall funding. But it will be looking to fund the wall once work starts on the full-year funding bill.
A measure to raise the nation's debt ceiling could be combined with the continuing resolution or passed by itself, but it must happen by Sept. 29, according to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Republican leaders Friday were weighing the idea of linking flood money to the debt ceiling increase, which would make it harder for fiscal hawks to vote "no," given the magnitude of the disaster in Houston.
The Senate hasn't scheduled any major legislation and will start the week with a vote on Timothy Kelly, Trump's nominee to serve as the United States District Judge for the District of Columbia.
The Senate will start weighing what to do about Obamacare's cost sharing subsidies. The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has scheduled a hearing on the issue Sept. 7 and will then begin working on a bipartisan plan to extend the subsidies, which Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said should last for a year.
Outside of all these immediate issues, the House schedule also includes consideration of a bill that would speed up deployment of self-driving cars. The legislation would exempt up to 25,000 vehicles from auto safety requirements for a year.
"This vote will pave the way for the safe testing, development, and deployment of self-driving cars across the U.S.," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore.