Summer vacation is all but over, and Congress already had a lot of defense homework for its fall session.

National security issues are expected to dominate much of the discussion on Capitol Hill for the rest of September, with controversial votes in both chambers throughout the month. But whether that means any progress will be made on the annual defense budget bills remains to be seen.

Here are the top issues on the schedule:

The Iran deal

Congress has until Sept. 17 to vote on President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, which trades increased oversight of Iran's nuclear fuel procession for international sanction relief.

Republican lawmakers have come out strongly against the measure and appear close to having enough votes in the House and Senate to disapprove of the deal. But already, enough Senate Democrats have signaled the support needed to sustain a presidential veto of that disapproval, allowing the deal to move ahead.

On Sept. 9, just a day after the congressional session resumes, a coalition of anti-Iran groups will gather on the National Mall to try to lobby lawmakers to oppose the deal. Presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Donald Trump are scheduled to speak at the event.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders in the House and Senate are planning a host of oversight hearings on the deal in the days to come, picking apart the proposed relief and restrictions it contains.

But the moves appear unlikely to sway Obama's backers, several of whom held national press conferences in August to explain their support for the controversial plan.

The budget

Just two weeks after the Iran deal deadline comes the end of the fiscal year, and the end of budget authorities for dozens of federal programs. If a compromise can't be reached, another partial government shutdown could be in the offing.

For now, that doesn't appear likely. Democrats and Republicans have said a shutdown would be an economic and political disaster, and have already begun discussions about a continuing resolution to keep programs operating at least at fiscal 2015 funding levels while the budget fights continue.

But congressional leaders appear no closer to reaching a long-term budget solution, in large part because of the fight over defense spending for fiscal 2016.

GOP lawmakers have pushed plans that would add tens of billions to temporary war funding accounts to get around spending caps for the Defense Department next year. Obama has vowed to veto that move, calling it a gimmick that does not fix any of the underlying budget problems for other agencies.

Senate Democrats have blocked all the budget proposals on Capitol Hill as a result, leaving both sides accusing the other fiscal stubbornness.

Until a solution is found, Pentagon programs will be forced to operate on temporary, lower-than-inflation funding levels, a headache that Defense Secretary Ash Carter has called problematic for national security planning and "embarrassing" for the country.

Defense authorization bill

Negotiations on the annual defense authorization bill stalled in July just before the summer congressional break began, but lawmakers are still hopeful they can complete that work by the end of the fiscal year.

To do so, they'll have to work through a series of differences between the respective draft bills passed by the House and Senate, none of which were considered major early in the summer but several of which have proven complicated enough to stall a compromise.

House lawmakers have objected to Senate plans to trim housing allowances and raise some Tricare pharmacy co-pays, while the Senate has insisted on including new language related to closing the detention facilities at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and its own version of defense acquisition reform.

The conference committee is also negotiating how to work through some budget points of order with the measure's sweeping military retirement reforms, which would replace the current 20-year all-or-nothing system with a 401(k)-style investment option for all troops.

GOP defense lawmakers had pointed to the end of September as a hopeful point for passing a final authorization bill, as a way to show they could manage the budget process better than Democrats who were ousted from control of the Senate last year. They still have a few weeks left to meet that goal.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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