Treasury Secretary Lew sent a letter to Congress on Aug. 26 which stated that the debt limit must be raised by mid-October. The Treasury Department has been employing extraordinary measures that it only can extend for about six more weeks. Absent an increase in the debt limit by mid-October, the Treasury would only be able to use cash on hand to fund the government and the cash available would be insufficient to operate government agencies and pay outstanding obligations.

The question is — what are the concessions Congress will demand in return for raising the debt limit. The President has said he won’t accept any conditions in a debt ceiling bill. Many Republicans want to tie an increase in the debt ceiling to either further spending reductions or a delay in implementing certain provisions of “Obamacare,” or both.

It appears that Congress and the Administration are headed toward another showdown similar to the one in Aug. 2011 that led to the Budget Control Act and sequestration.

The President previously has said he will not utilize a provision in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment to keep issuing debt, but he may have to reconsider that stance.

The Administration might be willing to accept a short-term delay in implementation of certain provisions of “Obamacare” as the price for raising the debt ceiling sufficiently to get past the midterm elections.

Other important issues also demand attention.

The House and Senate have passed farm bills, H.R. 2642 and S. 954, respectively, that must be reconciled. Portions of the current law begin to expire on Sept. 30 although the end of 2013 is probably the real deadline when dairy support prices will increase five-fold up to $38 per hundredweight.

The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, S. 744, in June, but the full House hasn’t voted on any immigration measures. House Republican leaders continue to support a multiple-bill rather than comprehensive approach.

Some House committees have approved bills addressing specific issues, such as border security enhancements, visas for agricultural workers and employment eligibility verification requirements.

Recently, House leaders announced that because of the severe time constraints and hefty agenda, they would not schedule consideration of any immigration legislation this fall.

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