1. COUNTDOWN

    Budget Deal Looks Unlikely

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Democratic leaders speak to reporters after Senate Republicans killed a $54 billion funding bill for transportation, housing and community development grants because it exceeded the punishing spending limits required under automatic budget cuts that are the product of Washington's failure to deal with its fiscal problems, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. Congress leaves for a five week recess Friday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    Congress is about to leave for its five-week summer vacation, but they still haven’t reached an agreement on spending that would avert a government shutdown in the fall. If they fail to reach a compromise, they’ll have a short window, from September 9 to October 1, to figure things out. Two approaches to fixing the budget were both rejected this week: the first, a Senate bill designed to restore some of the billions cut from housing and transportation by the sequester; the other, a House bill relying on automatic budget cuts to shrink the government. If Congress fails to reach a deal upon their return, the government will shut down October 1.

    Read it at The Washington Post