Republicans under duress as Congress returns

The last thing they need is more drama out of the Capitol weeks from the election to further stoke voter doubts about their Donald Trump-led party.
If it were only that easy.

While Republicans say they’ve cleared the decks for a placid September, with no debt ceiling deadline approaching and no key programs expiring, they’ll still have less than a month to fund the government upon returning Tuesday from their long summer recess. And with competing ideas among Republicans about what to prioritize, and likely resistance from Democrats, some late-September theatrics look almost inevitable.

The biggest wild card is the House Freedom Caucus, whose members are still steamed after the fall of their colleague Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) in an August primary. They blame House leadership for Huelskamp’s defeat, and they’re already making merciless demands on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that will put him in a real pinch.

One is to force an impeachment vote against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, which most Republicans privately reject but conservatives are determined to make happen.

The issue has the potential to spill over into the Senate, where several Republicans are fighting for their political lives this election and would prefer the impeachment matter remain on the other side of the Capitol.

The GOP is also under pressure from Florida Republican lawmakers to approve a Zika rescue package — even if it means caving to some Democratic demands. The mosquito-borne virus has spread in Florida since Congress skipped town in mid-July, infecting multiple counties and beaches. And Democrats are launching a political campaign based on the GOP’s inaction, specifically targeting incumbent Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.