The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate both passed a bill on Thursday extending federal funding at current levels for an additional two weeks, averting a government shutdown Friday. The bill passed mostly along party lines in the House with 14 Democrats voting for the measure and 18 Republicans opposing it. The Senate passed the continuing resolution (CR) by a wider 81-14 margin.
The short-term spending deal that was passed in September was set to expire today, but lawmakers were not yet prepared to pass a final spending package for fiscal year (FY) 2018. With a two-week extension of that deadline, Congress has additional time to negotiate a final spending package, but policy issues are likely to complicate and delay negotiations between the two parties.
Democrats are demanding that Congress enact a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Trump announced will expire in March, as part of a year-end spending deal. Republicans, however, oppose attaching this major policy legislation to an appropriations bill, preferring to address it after the New Year. Some rank and file Democrats have threatened to vote “no” on any final FY 2018 spending package if DACA has not been authorized, which could lead to a government shutdown on December 22nd when Thursday’s CR expires.
President Trump met with Congressional leadership from both parties on Thursday to discuss a budget deal – primarily raising the budget caps on defense and non-defense spending. Democrats are pushing for non-defense budgets caps to be raised an equal amount as defense spending. Only after top-line budget caps have been agreed upon for FY 2018 can appropriators in Congress complete their work on determining funding levels for individual programs. This process can often take several weeks, which means Congress will likely need to pass a third CR on or before December 22nd in order to avoid a government shutdown.
Resources:John Bresnahan, Sarah Ferris, and Rachel Bade, “Senate Clears Spending Bill, Averts Shutdown,” Politico, December 7, 2017.