Indiana delegation returns to Capitol Hill with long list of unfinished business and looming deadlines
WASHINGTON D.C. (Sept. 7, 2015) – When lawmakers return to Capitol Hill Tuesday, they’ll face a long list of unfinished business and looming deadlines.
And the controversy and hot rhetoric is expected to follow.
“The choice for this is not this deal or war,” Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) said in a recent interview with CBS4 discussing the Iran deal. “This deal will bring war.”
At the top of the list, lawmakers must pass a spending bill by Oct. 1 to keep the government open, address crumbling infrastructure after ignoring long-term transportation funding and vote on the highly controversial deal with Iran.
Congress won’t be able to block that deal.
Last week Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) became the 34th Democrat to announce her support for the deal, giving President Obama enough support in the Senate to sustain his veto if Republicans pass a resolution against the agreement.
CBS News reported Sunday the deal received public support from two prominent political figures – former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Still, hundreds-of-thousands of dollars are being spent on TV ads targeting moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), a key vote for the Obama administration.
Donnelly, who supports the deal, wouldn’t tell CBS4 whether top administration officials lobbied for that vote.
“My vote belongs to the people of Indiana,” he said. “And so whether it’s an administration or whether it’s anyone else is not of interest to me.”
Republicans, none of which have said they will support the deal, continue to pressure Democrats to reject it.
“I hope Sen. Donnelly listens to Hoosiers that I think are opposed to the deal because I think it’s an overwhelming majority of Hoosiers,” Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) said.
Some of the biggest fireworks, though, may come down to the looming budget battle.
A number of key conservatives are determined to tie the spending bill to legislation that would defund Planned Parenthood.
The latest attempt from conservatives comes after undercover video showed top national Planned Parenthood executives discussing in graphic detail the selling of fetal tissue.
Rokita said he’s still unsure whether he’d support triggering a shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding.
“Well I’m going to have to think on that,” he said. “I’m pro-life for sure. No exceptions for me.”
Rokita, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, adds while lawmakers will talk about a much-needed long-term highway bill this fall, he’s not convinced in quick results.
“Being in Congress for four years, what I’ve realized is the minute we decide on what the new solution’s gonna be, it might be a decade before it gets implemented,” he said.
In October, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is expected to testify before a House committee investigating the Benghazi terror attack while she was Secretary of State.
“We’ll be preparing for the interview,” Brooks said, who sits on the committee. “But even all along, we’ve continued to interview people from the State Department, from the CIA, from the Defense Department because we still want to make sure we are getting all the facts.”
Lawmakers will also address EPA regulations, immigration reform and participate in the Pope Francis’s address to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 24.