New stopgap funding bill faces Senate opposition

A House plan to keep the government open past Feb. 8 faces an uphill climb in the Senate.

U.S. Capitol (Photo by Orhan Cam / Shutterstock)
 

A House plan to prevent a government shutdown on Feb. 8 faces an uphill climb in the Senate.

House Republicans released a bill in the evening on Feb. 5 that includes full funding for the Department of Defense for the remainder of fiscal year 2018 while keeping the rest of the government going on a continuing resolution through March 23.

The measure would be the fifth continuing resolution of the current fiscal year. The House passed the bill by a vote of 245 to 182 in the evening of Feb. 6.

The full-year defense funding solves a political problem for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who was facing a revolt from within Republican ranks from defense hawks who objected to the military limping along at its 2017 budget levels and from the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus.

However, same provision that allows Ryan to pass the bill with Republican votes means that it faces trouble in the Senate, where the bill needs 60 votes to pass. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he expects Democrats to oppose the measure.

"Speaker Ryan and House Republicans keep running into the same brick wall. When will House Republicans learn that they must chart a bipartisan course to get a bill through the Senate," Schumer said on the Senate floor on Feb. 6.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned that the optics may be against the Democrats if they risk another shutdown.

"The American public was reminded it's not one simple party rule in the Senate. It takes 60 votes to pass anything. Unfortunately, last time we had to have a shutdown," McCarthy said. "Hopefully we will not be in that situation again. I did not find that to be productive, and I don’t think the American people did either."

At a Feb. 6 House hearing, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis complained of the process of governing by continuing resolution.

"Our military has been operating under debilitating continuing resolutions for more than 1,000 days during the past decade. These men and women hold the line for America while lacking this most fundamental Congressional support, a predictable budget," Mattis said.

If Senate Democrats block consideration of the continuing resolution, there is time for a new measure to be brought forth in the House. However, with funding for the federal government running out at midnight Feb. 8, the timing would be close.

Even with a continuing resolution, President Trump reiterated his willingness to shut down the government if he doesn't like a future deal on spending and immigration.

"I'd love to see a shutdown if we can't get this stuff taken care of... If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don't want safety, let's shut it down," Trump said to reporters at the White House on Feb. 6.

This story was updated to reflect the House vote on the continuing resolution.

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