So far, Hurricane Harvey and the flooding of southeast Texas kept popular vote loser Donald Trump from dwelling his obsession of last week, keeping his feud with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fired up. There's plenty more time for that, though, in this last week of August recess before all legislative hell breaks loose.
Because Congress ate up so much of the year with a failed push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they have an extremely narrow time frame left to pass a budget, raise the debt ceiling, reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Flood Insurance Program and appropriate funding to stabilize Obamacare's marketplaces. This would be a challenge even with full support from the White House, but it becomes nearly impossible with a president whose spasms of rage, loose grasp of policy, and itchy Twitter finger threaten to derail the delicate deal-making process. […]
The House and Senate return from recess Sept. 5, the day after Labor Day, and will only be in session for 12 days in September. During that time, they must negotiate and pass a slew of bills to keep the government running and avoid defaulting on the national debt.
Besides raising the debt ceiling and approving either a short- or long-term budget by the end of September, Congress must also reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, the Children's Health Insurance Program and the National Flood Insurance Program before their funding expires.
Republican leaders on the Hill have already conceded that, given the tight deadline, their promises of a return to "regular order" budget votes will have to wait, and the best they can hope for is a short-term continuing resolution to stave off a government shutdown for a few more months.
That's if Trump doesn't decide he's going to shut down the government over his border wall funding, and depending how many maniacs from the far-right House Freedom Caucus decide to help him. He could also decide that he wants Obamacare repeal before anything else. Or he could decide he wants to bomb North Korea before doing anything else. We're moving into what was already going to be a hellacious September with an extremely unpredictable and unstable White House.
Add to all that a deepening Russia investigation that's narrowing in and heating up on Trump. Whether he's trying to distract from that with the kind of antics he displayed last week—the insane rally in Phoenix, doubling down on his support for white supremacists, pardoning racist former Sheriff Joe Arpaio—or whether he's just lashing out and melting down because that's what he does under extreme pressure, that's the new normal. The question is how long congressional Republicans are willing to put up with his declaration of war on them and the nation.