The juxtaposition for investors in the new week will be striking, even though it may not be obvious. While the markets rightly will be focused on a far-from-certain congressional vote on an American show of force in the new week, an even more uncertain fiscal fight looms.
President Barack Obama wants Congress to approve strikes against Syria in retaliation for its use of chemical weapons. Usually a vote related to military action would attract wide bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. But not with this Congress. Before the president's request, Republicans and Democrats were entrenching their positions in preparation for two financial fights this fall: raising the debt ceiling and passing a budget.
The political capital necessary for the Syrian vote likely will delay the fiscal debate. There is the practical matter of timing. The U.S. House has scheduled only nine legislative days of work this month, which includes Monday, its first day in session in five weeks. Already on its agenda were the continuing battle over spending cuts, efforts to hold back money from health care reform, and the necessary debt limit increase if the government is to continue to borrow enough money to pay its bills.
The federal government needs a spending plan before its new fiscal year begins in less than a month. The Treasury Department figures it needs a higher borrowing limit by the middle of next month. While neither will be explicitly mentioned in the limited Syrian authorization, both provide ample financial uncertainty as the economy slowly strengthens.
Tom Hudson, financial journalist, hosts "The Sunshine Economy" on WLRN-FM in Miami. He is the former co-anchor and managing editor of "Nightly Business Report" on public television. Follow him on Twitter@HudsonsView.