Will the Government Shutdown this Week or Will Congress pass Another Continuing Resolution?
Congress still has not reached a deal on how to fund the federal government for FY18, creating the possibility of a government shutdown when the current stopgap funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), expires on February 8. A CR carries forward funding levels from the previous year.
Lawmakers have now passed several CRs for FY18, as they continue to negotiate a final deal to lift mandatory caps to increase spending on discretionary programs and fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. Multiple Republican sources indicate the House could vote as early as Tuesday, February 6, on a stopgap bill to fund the government through March 22.
Republican leaders have proposed raising the FY18 cap on discretionary spending by $143 billion, a 13% increase over current spending limits. Democrats, however, continue to demand that any deal maintain parity between defense and nondefense spending. The deal proposed by Republicans would provide an additional $80 billion for defense spending, while increasing non-defense discretionary spending by $63 billion.
The proposal calls for allowing similar increases in FY19. Another Republican proposal was to increase funding for non-defense programs while earmarking some of the increased funds for transportation infrastructure, reducing the amount of money available for other programs.
Even if lawmakers are able to reach a deal before the current CR expires, Congress will likely have to pass another CR to give appropriators time to finalize the 12 annual spending bills-including those that fund affordable housing and community development programs-based on the increased funding levels set by the deal. These bills would likely be combined to form an omnibus spending package.
It is unclear if Congress will be able reach agreements on providing emergency aid for areas impacted by recent disasters or on a fix for young undocumented immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in order to attach them to a CR. During the last CR negotiations, Democratic leaders demanded these issues be addressed but backed off after the government was shut down for three days.