Congress plans one-week punt on funding deadline

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After about a month of relative quiet, the House and Senate appropriators have emerged from their work on a funding package for the remainder of fiscal year 2017 to announce that they need more time.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced a measure to keep the government running until May 5.

The current continuing resolution passed last December is set to expire at midnight on April 28.

"I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon. It is time that this essential work is completed so that critical programs and activities – including national defense –are properly and adequately funded for the year," Frelinghuysen said.

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee said in a statement that he was "glad that bipartisan negotiations to reach a sensible agreement are moving forward," complained of "one partisan obstacle after another from the Trump administration."

On the floor of the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said there are still some issues dividing Democrats and Republicans on a funding package for the rest of fiscal year 2017.

"The most vexing is poison pill riders," Schumer said. "We won’t accept them, but I believe that we are close to final agreement."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he expected the stopgap bill to pass, so that "a final agreement can be drafted and shared with members for their review prior to its consideration next week. "

Several key objections from Democrats have been addressed, including President Donald Trump's demand for preliminary funding for a planned border wall and threat to withhold some payments to insurance carriers under the Affordable Care Act. However, some sticking points remain.

The extra week should give some breathing room to negotiators and some peace of mind to federal employees.

"I represent 62,000 federal employees," said Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on CNBC. "They're always put at angst when we get down to these deadlines."

Federal contractors also face consequences of a shutdown. In an April 27 alert, the D.C. law firm Wiley Rein urged contractors to be in touch with officials supervising their contracts about what activities are to continue and what gets paused in the event of a temporary lapse in appropriations. The alert also noted that the pipeline of contract awards and competitions would suffer delays in a partial shutdown, but that proposal and litigation deadlines should be observed.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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