House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the president’s comments to journalist Bob Woodward “is a tragedy beyond words.” (Sept. 10)

AP Domestic

WASHINGTON — The House is set to return from a monthlong recess Monday, launching a congressional sprint on a number of must-pass bills to avert a government shutdown.

Both the House and Senate only have several weeks left in session before the November election. The small window, meshed with essential legislation, a global pandemic and a presidential election, has left Congress with a jam-packed schedule. The House also aims to tackle topics beyond the expected, like the federal legalization of marijuana. 

Here’s what to expect this month once the House is back in the nation’s capital:

COVID-19 relief?

Optimism on Capitol Hill has faded fast. Americans weathering the deep-rooted impacts of the coronavirus pandemic appear increasingly unlikely to see any additional financial relief from Congress before the November election.

After passing a series of bills totaling more than $3 trillion to help blunt COVID-19, congressional leaders have so far been unable to find a bipartisan compromise on another batch of aid for unemployed Americans, schools and businesses. Top Democrats and White House negotiators spent weeks attempting to broker a deal, only leading to both sides largely digging in their heels and blaming one another for the prolonged impasse.

Last week, Senate Democrats blocked a Republican $300 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill. That further dampened prospects Congress will pass additional pandemic aid. After the chamber failed to move forward on the measure, a host of lawmakers voiced skepticism that any movement would be made on such a package until voters cast their ballots.

Senate stimulus plan: Senate Democrats block $300 billion coronavirus stimulus package, leaving little hope for relief before November

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Friday in Kentucky that the outlook appeared grim.

“I wish I could tell you we were going to get another package, but it doesn’t look that good right now,” he said.

But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have not closed the door to more aid passing, insisting that the failure would force both sides back to the negotiating table. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, said all hope was not lost yet, though “it looks that way.”

“You know, you never know around here. Sometimes things look bleak and they revive, and so forth,” he told reporters.

The impasse has not been helpful to those in tight November races and moderate Democrats in the House, many of whom have attempted to pushed/ a public pressure campaign to take up a smaller bill to quickly get financial relief to families and the unemployed.

A senior Democratic aide associated with the moderate wing of the party, granted anonymity to speak candidly, said the moderate Blue Dog Coalition reached out to House Democratic leadership and said it wanted a vote on a negotiated stimulus deal by the end of the session.

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., the