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All The Upcoming Deadlines Facing Congress, The Trump Administration

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The Trump administration and Congress left a number of major policy issues unresolved before leaving Washington, D.C., for the Christmas holiday last year. Now, with both chambers back in session next week, many deadlines are quickly approaching. 

In 2018, the administration and GOP leadership in Congress may need to try to work more with Democrats, now that Republicans hold an only 51-49 majority in the Senate. From domestic to international affairs, here are the major upcoming deadlines in Washington. 

January 12 — Next Iran deal certification deadline 

President Trump continues to slam the Iran nuclear deal as bad for the U.S., but he hasn't officially backed out of it, and the next deadline for certifying Iran's compliance with the deal to Congress is rapidly approaching. Under a law Congress passed in the wake of the 2015 Iran deal, the administration has to certify whether Iran is in compliance with the deal every 90 days. The next 90-day deadline is Jan. 12. 

And by Jan. 14, Mr. Trump will have to decide whether he will waive economic sanctions against Iran, as he did in mid-October. If he does not waive the sanctions, it would meant the U.S. would not be in compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal, given that one condition for Iran's compliance with the deal was the lifting of economic sanctions against it.

At the last deadline in October, the president announced the U.S. would remain in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached under Obama in 2015, generally referred to as simply the Iran deal, but would not certify to Congress that Iran is in compliance under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) of 2015. At the time, he asked Congress to revise the INARA, and come up with a new solution. 

This week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Associated Press the administration and Congress are still working on a fix, which could come as early as next week. 

Mid-January — Palestinian relief funding - report

A State Department official told Reuters the Trump administration is deliberating on what to do in regards to future aid payments to Palestinians. The official told Reuters the administration has until mid-January to determine funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. Axios has reported the agency was considering slowing UNRWA funding amid stalled peace talks.

January 19 — Spending deal

Congress already kicked the proverbial can down the road on reaching a spending deal before Christmas. Now, a Jan. 19 deadline is fast approaching, with only days to come to a solution. Now, however, Congress will have to pass a deadline with a slimmer majority in the Senate. After Democrat Doug Jones' victory over Republican Roy Moore, the GOP has a mere 51-49 advantage in the Senate, and Republican Sen. John McCain has yet to return to Washington. 

January 30 - State of the Union

President Trump delivers his first State of the Union address, a tradition that is outlined in Article 2 of the Constitution that the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." This is annual speech in which the president often articulates his vision for the country and lays out the agenda for the year.

March 5 — DACA 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that Mr. Trump announced in September that he would rescind, officially ends on March 5. 

At Camp David on Saturday, the president again insisted he doesn't want a DACA deal apart from strengthened border security. White House chief of staff John Kelly said DACA was a key focus during Camp David discussions. 

"We want the wall," Mr. Trump said. "The wall is going to happen or we're not going to have DACA. We want to get rid of chain migration. Very important. And we want to get rid of the lottery system. In addition to that we want some money for funding – we need some additional border security. These are great people and we need some border security. We need ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) but we want to make sure that in terms of what we want."

"We want DACA to happen," the president continued. "We all – everybody – I think I can speak for everybody. We want John Cornyn from Texas. We all want DACA to happen. But we also want great security for our country."

CHIP funding — end of March but likely sooner 

Congress came up with short-term funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, just before Christmas. The program provides health insurance for children in low-income families, sending money to states to do so. But some states are worried they will run out of funds long before the end of March, which is when Congress intended the funds to extend until. There is concern money for CHIP could run out before the end of the month in some states, and if Congress doesn't broker a bigger spending deal on time, funding in many states could run dry. 

April 26, 2018 (maybe) - FISA Reauthorization

Technically, the authorization for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ran out at the end of 2017. Congress was supposed to reauthorize FISA by the end of 2017. The act contains Section 702 -- a key intelligence tool that has helped the government unravel terrorist plots and cyber attacks. It was last renewed in 2012, before Edward Snowden leaked National Security Agency (NSA) documents. Lawmakers have been debating where a reauthorization should fit on the spectrum between broad surveillance powers and the protection of individuals' privacy. 

In December, however, the New York Times reported that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence argued that the program could continue beyond the end of the year, given that the FISA court had recertified the Section 702 program for a year on April 26. That would give the government until April 2018 to reauthorize the program.

The Section 702 program authorizes the government to collect electronic communications of foreigners outside of the U.S. and acquire foreign intelligence information, sometimes crossing paths with communications involving Americans. The program cannot be used to specifically target Americans anywhere in the world, it cannot be used to target anyone located inside the U.S. and it cannot be used to target a foreign person while intending to obtain communications of an American.

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