Congress near election year boil

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The political pace of the 2016 election year is likely to quicken dramatically in coming days in Washington, as the Congress deals with a series of explosive legislative matters like terrorism and guns, while both Republicans and Democrats also wait for the biggest decisions yet by their party’s presumptive nominees for President.

Not only will both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaign in North Carolina on Tuesday, but Clinton will have President Obama on hand as she stumps for votes in Charlotte; Trump will be in Raleigh in the evening.

Both sides are playing the expectations game right now on a choice for running mate – Trump may be the first to make his choice public, as the GOP convention begins in less than two weeks on July 18 in Cleveland. Democrats gather a week later in Philadelphia for their convention.

The two parties are also waiting on the FBI, as investigators seem to be wrapping up their probe of Clinton’s email practices while she was Secretary of State.

Clinton was questioned at FBI Headquarters here in Washington, D.C. for over three hours on Sunday.

Whatever the FBI’s decision is on Clinton, it’s sure to be met with a storm of reaction from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress – as early as this week.

Trump will be on Capitol Hill this Thursday to meet separately with House and Senate Republicans, as some in the GOP are still refusing to endorse their party’s presumptive nominee.

Reporters on Capitol Hill have been pestering GOP lawmakers in recent weeks, asking if they are going to the Republican convention – and therefore tacitly endorsing Donald Trump.

As for the Congress, the next two weeks could be a tumultuous time – not only on the race for President, but also on some key issues that may be up for votes.

When the House left town in late June, Democrats had found their voice on gun control in the aftermath of the terror attack on a nightclub in Orlando, using a sit-in on the floor of the House to demand action.

With the House ready to return to work after a break for Independence Day, Democrats say they’re ready to resume their call for action on gun violence.

Republicans have a bill on the schedule this week about terrorism – but the plan also includes a provision dealing with the question of whether those on the terror watch list, or the ‘no-fly’ list, should be allowed to purchase a firearm in the United States.

The GOP plan on guns in the House mirrors a provision put forward by Republicans in the Senate last week, which would allow authorities to delay a gun purchase if a person is on the no-fly list, or has been investigated for terrorism links.

Democrats blocked that plan in the Senate with a filibuster, and it seems unlikely they will vote for it in the House. That means it could run aground in enough Republicans balk as well – and already, there are rumblings about exactly that.

This from Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), a more Libertarian GOP lawmaker, which may signal trouble ahead for Republican leaders:

Look for lawmakers and the White House to also exchange verbal jabs over extra money for Zika; that was held by a Democrats with a filibuster in the Senate.

The schedule for the Congress this summer will be different than usual, because the two party conventions are in July this year; in recent times, they have been sandwiched back-to-back around Labor Day.

But, because the conventions will occupy the last two weeks of July, Congressional leaders decided to simply use that as the start of a lengthy summer break in D.C. – as after the end of next week, lawmakers won’t be back in session in the House and Senate until after Labor Day.

In other words, not much is going to get done in the Congress before the November elections.