Congress is back to D.C. after a 7-week summer break to see what can get done before the election recess, but it's already apparent how much isn't going to be accomplished. With important items on the docket - including emergency funding for Zika, a deal to fund the government for another few months, and a massive defense appropriations bill (NDAA) - it took just two days for the partisan bickering to reach a fever pitch. An internal memo from earlier this year revealed a calculated plan within the Department of Defense to make Congress's job of approving a defense budget even more difficult by "playing hardball" with Congressional Republicans and using a Presidential veto to get what they want. The memo has incensed Republican Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-1), who is responsible for crafting the House version of the bill and getting it sent (again) to the Senate. Ryan lashed out at the memo's near self-admission of playing partisan politics on defense spending. And while the lines are being drawn on defense issues, Congress looks to be taking up a slate of election year fodder that might give them something to brag about to their constituents. We have to include the controversial "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act" in that category. The bill would allow U.S. citizens who are victims of state-sponsored terrorism to sue the state responsible. The bill comes as the nation will commemorate the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and several of the victims' families want to sue Saudi Arabia for the crime. Like the defense bill, President Obama's veto threat is looming in light of the "unintended consequences" of the bill. With much to do in September, Congress looks to be gridlocked internally, externally, and interminably.

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