After returning today, lawmakers face some key budget deadlines in the coming months:

SEPT. 30, GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?

The federal government runs out of money at the end of the month unless Congress passes a measure to keep the cash flowing. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., say they don't want a government shutdown, but avoiding one won't be easy.

In July, 18 House Republicans vowed not to support any government funding measure that includes federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Senate Democrats and the White House, meanwhile, are pressing for an increase in federal spending by scaling back mandatory cuts called sequestration. Congressional Democrats have blocked appropriations bills in the Senate.

OCT 29, DEAD END FOR HIGHWAYS?

In July, Congress approved a three-month, $8 billion patch that kept federal highway funds flowing to the states through October. Lawmakers are supposed to negotiate a bill that lasts five or six years so states can plan long-term road and bridge projects.

States, meanwhile, have put numerous projects on hold because of the uncertainty, drawing the protests of business groups and governors.

NOVEMBER DEBT CEILING DUEL?

The government officially hit the debt ceiling in mid-March and has taken measures to keep government operating absent authorization to incur more debt. The Treasury Department expects to run out of extraordinary measures it employs to pay its bills by mid-November.

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