The U.S. Congress, back from vacation on Tuesday, already had its plate full with urgent fiscal and disaster relief issues when President Donald Trump saddled it with deciding the fate of people brought illegally to the United States as children.
The future of almost 800,000 young "Dreamers," protected from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, now rests with lawmakers who have failed repeatedly to deal effectively with immigration issues.
Trump on Tuesday scrapped DACA while giving Congress six months to do something about it.
Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona said permanent legislation to fix the immigration system had been Congress' prerogative all along, and that lawmakers should and could act quickly.
"There's a program, kids are protected by it, they are going to lose that protection if we don't act," Flake said.
Other critical issues are bearing down on lawmakers. Leading U.S. lawmakers said on Tuesday they were preparing to swiftly approve disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey and two other must-pass priorities: preventing a default on U.S. government debt and avoiding a government shutdown.
The House of Representatives was scheduled to consider on Wednesday a first installment of aid for Harvey relief and recovery, about $8 billion, and the Senate's leadership promised swift action once the House has passed the measure.
Senators will then move on to making sure government creditors are paid and avoiding a government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the chamber, outlining the agenda for September. "We have to get all three of these things done and we have to do it very quickly."